Mood Foods

Mood FoodsAccording to Health Essentials what you eat affects how you feel. While many people understand that the food they put in their mouths affects their health, not everyone know that diet is linked with how they feel and act.

Did you know that if you eat hot chips, chocolate, cake, often and in large portion sizes, you will not feel good. It really is that simple! And if you eat the right kinds of foods in the right quantities you will feel good.

Sometimes the quantity of food required to achieve a nutritional benefit is unrealistic. In that case a good-quality supplement is an excellent option. The key is understanding what kinds of food to eat to that your body can function as best as it is able to. There are however certain foods that have specific positive effects on our bodies and brains.

Mood Food 1: Low-Glycemic Carbohydrates

These break down slowly and provides a steady stream of energy and trigger the release of serotonin – feel good chemical. Low GI carbohydrates include wholegrain cereals and breads, brown rice and sweet potatoes. Because they break down slowly they keep your blood sugar levels stable, which in turn keeps our mood stabilised. These are easy to incorporate into daily diets by replacing refined carbohydrate s (white rice, white bread etc..) with wholegrain ones. Low GI carbohydrates also have a much higher fibre content when compared with refined carbs.

Mood Food 2: Chocolate

By chocolate we mean real chocolate high in cocoa content. Raw chocolate is rich in magnesium, an essential mineral that many adults are deficient in, and a lack of magnesium can make you feel sluggish and moody. Eating chocolate also causes the brain to release endorphins; chemicals that make us feel good, so when we eat it we feel pleasure.

Plus chocolate is rich phenylethylamine, which increases the activity of neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) in parts of the brain that control our ability to pay attention an stay alert. And it has caffeine and theobromine, a week stimulant. It’s possible the combination of these two chemicals  (and possibly others) may provide the ‘lift’ that chocolate eaters experience.

Though it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why chocolate makes us feel good we know it does so eat up in moderation and look for raw chocolate varieties made with the highest cocoa content to get the most out of this treat.

Mood Food 3: Blueberries

Dodge the blues with blueberries – small, yet incredibly powerful, these little berries are teeming with antioxidants, The antioxidant capacity of these little super berries is no trivial matter as they enhance brain activity – so you remain more focused. Plus they also have a high content of the stress-fighting vitamin C. Other fruits with a high-content of vitamin C include oranges, grapefruit, guava, kiwi fruit, mangos, passionfruit and pineapple. Combine fruits for a scrumptious fruit salad and try blueberries with yoghurt and muesli in the morning or with light ice cream as a special treat.

Mood Food 4: Leafy Greans

Spinach, rocket, kale – these dark green leaves are definitely good for our healthy but they can also help improve our mood. Folic acid is a type of B vitamin found in leafy greens and it’s been shown that a lack of it can cause depression and psychatric disorders (particularly in women) because levels of serotonin decrease when there is not enough folic acid present in the brain. Plus leafy greens are packed full of antioxidants, are good sources of fibre and contain vitamins A, C, K, calcium, folate and iron. And spinach has plenty of magnesium, which helps regulate cortisone levels. Toss greens through salads, pop them onto sandwiches and wraps, blend into soups or try steaming them as a nutrient-rich side dish.

Mood Food 5: Fish

Fish particularly fish high in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, mackerel and tuna, help make us feel good. Why? The fatty acids found in these fish are good for cognitive and behavioural function (they help your mood and memory) and can prevent surges in stress hormones.

Plus fish is a type of protein and contains the amino acid tyrosine, which increases the production of dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters can contribute to the increase of energy levels and alertness – so you’ll feel good! But if you don’t like fish you can get your omega-3′s from walnuts, canola oil and omega-3 supplements.

Mood Food 6: Eggs

Most of us know eggs are good for us but a recent study also found that eggs can actually help us lose weight because they help us feel fuller for longer. Plus the antioxidants found in egg yolk may also help prevent age-related muscular degeneration ( an eye condition that can lead to blindness). And yes eggs help us feel good. They contain choline and lecithin, both of which affect the brain function in people with certain neurological diseased which involve moods.

It’s been shown that people who regularly consume eggs have better memories when compared with those who don’t. So eat up – you can poach, fry, boil and scramble eggs for breakfast (with some leafy greens too for a real mood-enhancing kick), throw them into stir-fries, or boil, cool and then include in fresh salads.

Source: Health Essentials, Issue 5 2011.

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