How many times have we craved chocolates when in a bad mood? Did you know that there are a variety of food products which, when added to your diet, really help you feel better mentally?

We at EastMojo have compiled a list of healthy foods for you to add to your diet that will surely keep your mind and body in their best state – the ideal state for good mental health.

Integrate these foods into your diet not only for positive results in your waistline but also to potentially help your body fight cognitive diseases.

1. Chicken: the knock-out protein

This delicious lean protein has amino acid tryptophan, often associated with post-meal naps. This substance doesn’t actually knock you out but it does help your body produce serotonin, vital in helping your brain manage your mood, fight depression and maintain strong memory. A must for your mental well being.

2. Yogurt for brainfog

Yogurt and other similar products containing active cultures are excellent sources of probiotics. Yogurt is often associated with digestive health and probiotics have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, one of the major causes that affect our mental health. High in potassium and magnesium, Yogurt helps oxygen reach the brain, further improving its ability to function.

3. Salmon for mental health

If you’re a sea-food lover, this should be your go-to fish. Although a “fatty” fish, Salmon contains high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to a reduction in mental disorders such as depression. Omega-3s have been shown to boost learning and memory as well.

Salmon also has a naturally high-occurring amount of vitamin D, which is often added to foods and has been linked to lower rates of depression and improve your mental health. Other types of fish with high Omega-3 counts include tuna, mackerel, and herring.

4. From head To-ma-toes!

The red in tomatoes, lycopene, is an extremely beneficial phytonutrient and helps boost health. It provides a defense against brain diseases and has also been shown to delay the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s Disease. In addition, it also helps with memory, attention, logic, concentration, and overall mental health.

5. Whole Grains for wholesomeness

Beans, soy, oats, and wild rice, to name a few are what your body will thank you for consuming if your mental health doesn’t feel great. While your body and brain utilize carbohydrates for energy, too often we consume simple carbs, which lead to blood sugar spikes. Foods classified as whole grains contain complex carbohydrates, which leads to glucose being produced more slowly, as a more even and consistent source of energy.

Whole grains are also said to help the brain absorb tryptophan, which means that when eaten with foods like chicken and turkey, can further reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety while boosting brain function and improving mental health.

6. Olive Oil for learning and memory

This is a common ingredient in Mediterranean-style diets, especially pure, extra virgin olive oil. This type of oil contains polyphenols, which helps remove the effects of proteins linked to Alzheimer’s Disease. It can also help improve learning and memory.

7. Avocados for lutein boost

Avocados are rich in vitamin K and folate, which help protect your brain against stroke. They also provide a boost to your memory and concentration and serve up a high dose of lutein which helps with improved brain function.

8. Spinach for insomnia

Spinach and other leafy greens provide your brain with generous amounts of folic acid, shown to be a great deterrent to depression. It also helps fight off insomnia, which is heavily linked to mental impairments, and can help reduce dementia in older adults.

9. Nuts for boosting your mood!

Like salmon, nuts are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, helping to fight depression. Cashewsnuts, for instance, help provide oxygen to the brain with a dose of magnesium. Almonds too are good for the brain as they contain a compound called phenylalanine, which is shown to help the brain produce dopamine and other neurotransmitters that boost your mood.

10. Dark Chocolate

This is one we didn’t even have to tell you about. Dark chocolate’s cocoa content really helps boost one’s mood and is far more beneficial than milk chocolate. The darker, the better, 85% dark chocolate or more are the most beneficial. Dark chocolate contains high levels of flavonoids, a type of antioxidant.

It has been shown to boost attention and memory, enhance mood and help fight the cognitive decline in older adults. Just remember, chocolate should still be consumed in moderation, or it may not help with waistline improvement.

Also read: Mental health: Why some find it harder to bounce back after lockdown

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