Food For Thought

Depression, anxiety and stress often bog us down due to several reasons. Sometimes, we don’t even know why we are sad or upset. In such cases, you generally try to divert your mind or calm your nerves through meditation and positive thinking.

Even after self-counselling, if your mood doesn’t improve, then pop these foods to feel happy instantly. Nothing looks good on an empty stomach, so these readily available foods will not only fill you up, but also boost your mood.

Salmon

With a rosy pink flesh, the fish can be cooked in different ways and it is packed with vitamin D AKA the sunshine vitamin, considered to be a mood lifter. Other than vitamin D, salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids.

We all know that the brain is composed of 60% of DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid), which is a type of omega-3 fatty acids. Our brain needs good fats to function properly, these good fats are also called essential fatty acids (EFA).

Omega-3 fatty acid is an essential acid that contributes up to 18% of brain’s weight. As the body cannot produce this acid naturally, one has to eat omega-3 rich foods such as salmon, sardines, halibut and walnuts.
Deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids causes fatigue, mood swings, depression and loss of memory. American Heart Association (AHA) states that it is important to eat different varieties of fish at least twice a week. Vegetarians should have foods such as chia seeds, flax seeds and soybeans to get their daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids.

Broccoli

Broccoli contains chromium that helps increase the levels of serotonin, norepinephrine and melatonin in the brain. Chromium works directly with the brain’s mood regulators, and thus it is considered to be an effective treatment for depression. The recommended dietary allowance of chromium for women should be 25mcg and 35mcg for men to stay cheerful and stress-free. The chromium content in broccoli also helps metabolise food.

Here’s a quick recipe to uplift your mood. Make an instant mood lifting salad with broccoli (blanch the broccoli in hot water for a few minutes and strain), cherry tomatoes (contains lycopene, which also improves mood) and nuts (cashews, Brazil nuts and almond are good for brain). Add a dash of olive oil, pepper and lemon juice.

Spinach

Spinach contains folic acid or vitamin B9 that helps the body generate new cells and supports serotonin regulation. While serotonin transmits messages between nerve cells and helps the brain perform its functions effectively; the folic acid or folate in combination with vitamin B12 can treat depression. In fact, folate by itself increases the efficiency of anti-depressants. Folic acid also protects the brain from damage caused by free radicals.

Eating spinach daily will also boost your energy levels and mood. Add spinach to lentils, salads, soups or stews to make it tasty and healthy.

Turkey

The food is sure to bring a smile on your face, and it also brings back sweet memories. A thanksgiving dinner or a Christmas dinner is incomplete without turkey roast. This food is associated with joyous family occasions, and thus the very mention of ”Éturkey’ cheers you up.

Another reason to celebrate is that turkey is healthy and you can have it anytime. It is also rich in iron which helps transport oxygen, boost energy levels and increase muscle strength. One third cup of turkey contains 2.0mg of iron. Women should have 18mg of iron and men should take 8mg.

Low levels of iron can lead to fatigue and depression. Include, turkey in your salad and sandwiches to make it healthy, so that you are happy munching it.

Dark Chocolate

Now you have another excuse to indulge in chocolates. A recent study in the UK proves that those who consumed dark chocolate often stayed calmer than those who didn’t, thanks to the polyphenols in cocoa. Chocolate contains chemicals that help to release endorphins, which is a pain relieving and pleasure promoting hormone.

Dark chocolate also reduces inflammation, lowers blood pressure, and protects the health of arteries by reducing LDL cholesterol and boosting the levels of HDL or good cholesterol. And in the process reduces the risk of strokes and heart attacks.

The only bad news is that chocolate is packed with calories so you can eat only a square or a two per day.

Other than these five foods, you can also add other products such as Greek yogurt (rich in protein and calcium), eggs, mussels, Swiss chard, asparagus, mushrooms and chickpeas to your daily diet. A healthy body acts as an antidote for depression and fatigue. So eat your way to happiness!

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