Okay, perhaps not literally. And definitely not with the type of food that we’d normally reach for when we’re feeling a little gloomy – you know, the carbs, the sweets and all that’s sinful. Believe it or not, snack time can turn into an opportunity to lift your mood through much more than satisfying that hunger pang. Get your daily dose of vitamins and nutrients, as well as natural mood boosters, with these healthy food options.
#1 – Poultry and Fish
Those chicken breasts aren’t just for gaining muscle mass; they can help you raise your spirits too. By shifting your food intake to include more protein, you raise your body’s dopamine levels. A bonus would be to cut down on simple carbs, as that usually causes that ‘crash’ when insulin levels rise then drastically fall. With protein, your blood sugar level is maintained thus keeping your mood steady as well!
Fish, on the other hand, has been shown to be associated with lowering the risk of depression and suicide by altering our brain’s chemicals – specifically dopamine and serotonin. The omega-3 fatty acids (found in abundance in fatty fish such as salmon, herring, sardines, and tuna) may help ease depressive symptoms, as seen in a 9-month study of bipolar disorder (manic depression), which was stopped after only 4 months because omega-3 s were so effective at smoothing out moods. Can we say miracle cure?
#2 – Dark Chocolate
This one, we can personally vouch for! Not because we absolutely love the taste of it, but we have definitely felt the positive effects of breaking off a square (or two) after a meal. So, what’s the reason behind this? Indulging in a bit of dark chocolate (1.4 ounces of it, to be exact) every day for two weeks reduced stress hormones, including cortisol, in people who were highly stressed, a study done at the Nestlé Research Center in Switzerland found. It’s also important for us to stress that you won’t get the same benefits with milk or white chocolate due to its lower cocoa content. So if dark chocolate may prove to be too bitter for your taste, start off with chocolate that contains at least 60% cocoa content and work your way up.
#3 – Coconuts
Coconuts aren’t just excellent hydrators; their flesh is also a super nutritious source of energy as it primarily consists of medium chain triglycerides, a type of fat that is turned into energy quickly and efficiently. So when you’re feeling sluggish or need a quick wake-me-up before hitting the gym, try and hunt for some juicy, fleshy coconuts to enjoy!
#4 – Lentils
In replacement of simple carbs like rice or pasta, lentils are great starch alternative. Just like protein found in meat, lentils and legumes like chickpeas and kidney beans will stabilise your blood sugar levels as well as keep you feeling fuller for longer. This means no more mindless snacking, and reaching for carb-rich or fatty snacks, which will only put a damper on your day.
#5 – Asparagus
Who knew this rather mundane green would prove to be more than just another source of vitamins? It is actually one of the best plant-based sources of tryptophan which helps create serotonin, one of the brain’s primary mood-regulating neurotransmitters. The high levels of folate also add to asparagus' happiness-promoting profile! So the next time you’re thinking of what vegetable to add to your salad or main meal, don’t leave asparagus out.