We all know about comfort food, the favourite dish your mum served every time you needed a lift, the secret recipe for spaghetti bolognaise you discovered when you first moved away from home, the ice cream you reach for on those dark nights of the soul when the world seems a bleaker place.
But all of these are merely psychologically uplifting causing pleasure by association with happy memories or simply through the feeling of indulgence and self-gratification they offer.
There are some foods that are biochemically suited to cheering us up or even to fighting feelings like anxiety and depression.
It’s a varied list, and not necessarily what you might expect.
Everyone knows that chocolate is able to cause the body to generate endorphins (chemicals in the brain that cause pleasure) but dark chocolate in particular also has a very high magnesium content which reduces anxiety and contains tryptophan which reduces the effect of depression.
Salmon, along with many other types of fish – particularly the oily fishes – is packed with omega 3 compounds which are known as ‘brain food’ because they have been linked to memory and the ability to focus.
Perhaps less well known is the role omega 3s play in fighting depression and reducing mood swings.
Along with its leafy green cousins spinach is brimful of folic acid, one of the B vitamins most closely linked to mood improvement. Being a strong antioxidant it also protects the brain from free radicals which are thought to cause energy loss and listlessness.
It’s about time the humble chicken was given some credit as a superfood. The white meat of a chicken is full of nutrients and virtually fat and carb free, but it also contains a secret ingredient – vitamin B12 which maintains energy and mood.
Avocados have made me smile ever since I read that the name is derived from the Nahuatl (Aztec) word for “testicle”. Puerile schoolboy humour aside this amazing fruit is actually full of serotonin, a neural transmitter that causes happiness. It’s also very good for healthy skin, hair and nails,
Nearly all of them; blueberries, strawberries and raspberries contain the flavonoids anthocyanidins and anthocyanins which reduce stress and depression making your five a day a little more than just a way to stay trim.
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