The 14th October 2019 marks the beginning of chocolate awareness week here in the UK. While we all enjoy chocolate, it is interesting to know that the foods we love and hate really can affect not only our health but also our mood. The foods we eat each and every day are able to influence our moods in more ways than one. Not only can sweet things make you happy, but specific food groups can actually alter your brain chemistry to produce chemicals to improve mood, make you feel less stressed, and decrease feelings of depression or anxiety. The foods we choose to eat are powerful and we have an option each time we eat a meal to influence our moods both positively and negatively. Check out these food groups and how foods within them can help your mood!
Although carbohydrates have been largely frowned upon in recent diet culture trends, the reality is that complex carbs (whole grains, rice, corn, potatoes, legumes, etc.) can actually boost your mood! Carbs are able to provide you with energy and help you to produce serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical produced in your brain that helps to elevate happiness, suppress appetite, and increase calmness.
Foods that are high in fibre (such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains) can also help to increase serotonin levels in your brain. When your body begins to break down these high-fibre foods, serotonin increases and can improve mood dramatically! Studies have shown that those who have a higher-fibre diet even have been able to minimize stress and anxiety.
Foods that are rich in protein (such as eggs, tofu, lean meats, and meat substitutes) can increase your dopamine and norepinephrine levels, which can ultimately improve your mood and energy for several hours after eating. Improved energy levels have been linked to improved mood and lessened stress levels as well, which is beneficial especially for those who have mental health issues.
Many vitamins can help to make you feel a happier and more uplifted mood. Vitamin D, for example, can be found in milk, cereals, and dark leafy vegetables and can help relieve mood disorders. Vitamin B-12, which can be found in broccoli, oatmeal, and oranges, can help to ease depression. While there are many vitamins in fruits and vegetables, surprisingly enough there are even valuable nutrients in dark chocolate! Eating dark chocolate regularly can help you get some of those important vitamins and antioxidants while improving your overall mood as well. So enjoy some chocolate this week in the knowledge that it really can boost your state of mind!