Food plays an important role in health. A balanced diet can make one feel energised throughout the day and also balance the mood, says Jyoti Bhatt, a dietitian at Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre.
“Foods play a major role in balancing our various moods — either happy, sad, angry, depressed, or anxious. Researchers have studied few foods and nutrients that can be associated with brain health,” she adds.
As such, she lists a few foods and nutrients that play a role in boosting the mood.
1. Dark chocolate: Cocoa is rich in tryptophan that is used by our brains to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter. Serotonin is a key hormone that helps to stabilise our moods.
2. Green tea: Known for aiding weight loss and helping reduce inflammation, green tea is also loaded with antioxidants like catechin (EGCG), which help to boost brain function. It also helps a person feel alert — thanks to its caffeine content — along with improving memory.
3. Bell pepper: Packed with vitamin A, and B6, it is an essential nutrient for brain development and function, and also helps the body make the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine (influencing mood).
4. Omega-3 rich foods: Omega-3 helps to control heart disease, aids weight loss, and also has antioxidant properties. It’s also known for lowering depression, and other mental and behavioural conditions. Salmon, flax seeds, chia seeds, nuts, are some of the well-known sources.
5. Fermented foods: Fermented foods are important to maintain gut health as they are rich in probiotic bacteria. Foods like kimchi, buttermilk, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, pickled vegetables, kefir, yoghurt are rich source of probiotics. These foods are important for lifting the mood as serotonin (happy hormone) is produced in the gut.
6. Nuts: Nuts are the richest sources of many vitamins, minerals, magnesium and also have antioxidant properties. They are equally important to keep our mood boosted. Low levels of magnesium can lead to increased risk of depression.
7. Green leafy vegetables: Spinach, methi contain B-vitamin folate, deficiency of which can hinder the metabolism of serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline (neurotransmitters important for mood). More studies are needed to understand the exact role of folate in mental health.
8. Caffeine: Caffeine helps improve performance and mood by triggering the release dopamine, a brain chemical. Caffeine can act differently for each individual so if coffee makes you irritable, sad, sleepless, or brings other adverse effects, avoid drinking it. Take caffeine-free beverages or choose lower-caffeine beverages like black tea or green tea.