Research has revealed the various effects different foods can have on our mood, as well as highlighting which ones people tend to select as their go-to comfort foods.
Rice brand Tilda polled 2,000 people and discovered some interesting facts about their eating habits. This included asking about which were the best foods for boosting their mood. It was found that, when seeking comfort or a mood lift, most are more likely to opt for sugary snacks than healthy ones; seven in ten women will choose something sweet and one in two men. As well as being more likely to turn to sugar in unhappy times, it was also exposed that women are more likely to offer treats such as chocolate and cake to others as a source of comfort.
Remarkably, Tilda’s survey showed that only 28% of their study group would turn to family or friends to make them feel better in times of need – a statistic which demonstrates how it is all the more important for them to choose comfort foods with solid, long-lasting benefits. Experts have pointed out that, while sweet treats may offer an initial boost, their lifting effect is only short-term.
Dietician Sarah Schenker and food psychologist Christy Fergusson assembled a list of the ten best food for mood. Beans, spinach, asparagus, salmon, rice, chickpeas and quinoa all make an appearance but it’s seeds that come out on top – more specifically, pumpkin seeds and chia seeds.
Fergusson explains which healthy ingredients are the key to an effective mood boost, saying that “to make feel-good, happy chemicals known as neurotransmitters, we need to provide our body with the right building blocks. These come in the form of amino acids that are needed to make hormones including the mood-regulating inhibitory neurotransmitter serotonin – by far one of the most important brain chemicals for determining our mood and regulating our sleep.”
Schenker adds that she finds it “shocking to see wholesome eating habits go out the window when we face a challenge in the day or a lull in a routine. This is when healthy eating is most important. We need to replace the short-lived highs we get from refined sugar and processed fat with healthy options and long-term shopping and eating habits. This starts with recognising the types of food that can provide nutritional and psychological benefits; those which are scientifically proven to balance your mood.”
Best Foods for Boosting Your Mood
Other studies have found the following foods may help lift your mood:
- Dark chocolate
- Fermented foods
- Beans and lentils
- Nuts and seeds
When it comes to getting the best mood boost from your diet, the experts’ advice is clear: ditch the chocolate (unless it’s the dark variety!) and opt for seeds, vegetables and wholegrains.
To discover other ways to boost your mood, why not read some of our other posts by clicking on the links below: