Don’t worry – Eat happy! 5 mood enhancing foods

If you’re feeling a bit blue or down in the dumps, you could be lacking in some essential vitamins and minerals that will turn that frown upside down!  Food is not only a source of fuel for physical activity; it can also affect your mental and emotional health too.

Here is a short list of foods that contain nutrients to put a smile back on your dial.

Red meat

Whether you love a big juicy beef steak or a lamb chop, red meat is rich in wonderful vitamin B12 and zinc.

Vitamin B12 plays a role in nerve development and facilitates the prevention of mood and brain disorders. It also helps the body metabolise carbohydrates, protein and fat.  Other sources of vitamin B12 include salmon and dairy.

Zinc is another mineral needed in the diet because it helps to stabilise blood sugar levels and carbohydrate metabolism, which ultimately regulates mood.  You can get zinc from pumpkin seeds and oats as well.

Walnuts

Walnuts are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, a polyunsaturated fat that plays a variety of health-promoting roles in the body

Apart from reducing inflammation, preventing cardiovascular disease and maintaining the fluidity of cell membranes, omega-3 fats have been clinically proven to provide relief from mood swings and depression.

Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, tuna and flaxseeds. 

Salmon

This oily fish is rich in vitamin D, a nutrient that has been known to increase the production of the mood enhancing neurotransmitter serotonin.  Other sources of vitamin D include eggs and cheese, but our bodies can synthesize vitamin D with a bit of exposure to sunlight.

Seasonal affective disorder is a kind of depression that happens commonly during winter and is believed to be caused by a lack of exposure to the sun, which in turn causes low levels of vitamin D.

Beans and Legumes

The great thing about beans and legumes, especially chickpeas and lentils, is that they are high in iron and folate.  Both of these minerals contribute to a happy disposition.

Iron is found in every cell of the human body and helps oxygen to be carried around the body.  Without iron, our tissues get less oxygen and we become weak, tired and can even experience headaches and dizziness. You can get iron from other sources such as spinach and olives.

Folate is part of the B-vitamin family and supports nerve function and helps to maintain the synthesis of neurotransmitters to prevent nervous system problems and mood disorders.  It also promotes the development of red blood cells so they can transport oxygen around the body.  Folate is also found in asparagus and spinach.

Bananas

Bananas are a happy fruit for a number of reasons.  Yellow is a cheerful colour, they’re shaped like a smile and they contain magnesium and vitamin B6!

Just like it’s B12 cousin, vitamin B6 supports a whole range of neurological function, including the production of happy neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. It also plays a role in the breakdown of carbohydrates, which is important for providing energy to the body.  Other sources of vitamin B6 include tuna, chicken and potatoes.

Magnesium is known to be a happy mineral because it relaxes and soothes nerves and muscle by chemically blocking calcium from activating muscle contraction.  It also plays a role in the metabolism of carbohydrates and regulation of blood sugar levels. You can get magnesium from pumpkin seeds, spinach and almonds as well.

References: 

http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/fitness/9-mood-boosting-foods-you-should-be-eating.html#b

http://www.webmd.com/depression/features/foods-feel-better

http://whfoods.org/