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Feeling down? Boost your mood with these 7 ingredients

The uncertainty of lockdown can influence our mental wellbeing and moods. Try adding these mood-boosting foods to your eating plan.

by: Jandri Barnard RD (SA) | 13 May 2020
mood-boosting foods

These seven foods are all high in tryptophan, an amino acid that, when converted into serotonin, can assist in boosting your mood.

1. Eggs

The protein content of eggs increases the tryptophan in your blood. They’re also rich in tyrosine (improving mental health and concentration), choline (improving memory and mental wellbeing) and selenium (an antidepressant mineral), as well as biotin and omega-3 fatty acids.

2. Cheese

Cheese has a higher content of tryptophan than most meat sources. Not surprisingly, your favourite mac-and-cheese dish is high in tryptophan! The combination of cheddar cheese, eggs and milk boosts your serotonin levels. 

MUST-TRY RECIPE: The ultimate mac-and cheese

3. Subtropical fruits

Pineapples are good for more than just brewing beer! They contain bromelain, a protein that suppresses coughing in the side-effects of chemotherapy. Meanwhile, bananas are high in vitamin B6, synthesising the feel-good neurotransmitters of dopamine and serotonin in the body. Green, less-ripe bananas contain a higher concentration of prebiotics (a type of fibre that feeds the good bacteria in your gut), which is associated with lowering your risk of mood disorders. 

bananas and oats

4. Fatty fish

Fatty fish sources such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, anchovies and tuna are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce your risk for depression, improve your cholesterol levels and decrease your blood pressure. Omega-3 fatty acids consist of essential fats docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which need to be taken in by your diet or supplementation as they can’t be produced by your body. A combined daily intake of 250–500mg DHA and EPA is recommended for adults. These sources can include fresh, frozen or tinned fish. 

5. Avocados

Currently in season and available, avocados contain more than 25 nutrients beneficial to your health. It’s a source of soluble fibre and monounsaturated fatty acids, which help to balance your blood glucose levels and can prevent insulin resistance. The vitamin B and K content can reduce stress levels in your body, improving the working of your nervous system and boosting your overall mood. 

ALSO READ: Know your avocados – a handy guide to which are locally available and when to use them

6. Purple- and blueberries

Fresh or frozen purple- and blue-coloured berries such as blueberries and blackberries are high in antioxidants. This decreases inflammation in your body, which, in turn, is associated with a decrease in the prevalence of depression and other mood disorders. 

berry pancakes

7. Dark chocolate

Chocolate contains feel-good flavonoid components, which boosts your brain health by increasing blood flow to your brain. It also decreases inflammation and positively boosts your mood. Milk chocolate and white chocolate have added sugar and fat, which decrease the positive effects of the flavonoids in your body. Dark chocolate with a 70 per cent or more cocoa content is higher in flavonoids and lower in sugar, but remember that the recommended serving is two to three blocks per day. 

NOW READ: Eat your way to a good mood with these 5 foods

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