The food we eat plays a big role in the way we think, feel, and perform. It can play an important role in determining our overall mood, memory, concentration, and outlook on life. That’s why it’s a good idea to focus on eating a wide variety of plant foods every day to ensure you are getting in as many nutrients as possible. Whether you want to improve your overall health, mental state, or cognitive ability, paying attention to your diet and eating with intention can really pay off. When you remove harmful, processed foods from your diet and instead fuel your body with the whole plant foods that it needs, it will begin to function optimally.
Let’s take a look at specific foods that promote optimal brain health and boost your mood:
We also highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest meatless, vegan, plant-based and allergy-friendly recipe resource to help you get healthy!
Bananas are great for enhancing your mood and activating the feel-good chemicals in your brain. They contain an amino acid called Tryptophan, which is essential in humans. This means that the body cannot create it on its own and it must be consumed in our diet. It helps our body produce serotonin, improves our sleep quality, and helps us regulate our intake of food. Bananas also contain potassium and provide a good amount of vitamin B-6 and fiber. Check out these recipes for Banana Peanut Butter Maple Oatmeal Muffins, Blueberry-Banana Smoothie Bowl, and Stuffed Peanut Butter, Jelly, and Banana Sweet Potatoes.
Blueberries are one of the most nutrient-dense berries, containing fiber, Vitamin C, K, and manganese, among others. Research has also shown that they can increase antioxidant levels in your body. Because of their high antioxidant levels, they can neutralize some of the free radicals that potentially damage your DNA. The antioxidants may also affect areas of your brain that are responsible for brain function, and may delay mental decline. Check out these recipes for Blueberry Banana Bran Muffins, Paleo Blueberry Coconut Slice, and Blueberry-Crammed Banana Oat Bread.
Not only does dark chocolate taste amazing, but it also has some amazing benefits for our brain. Eating dark chocolate may positively affect mood and relieve depressive and anxiety symptoms. One study showed that “people who ate dark chocolate in two 24-hour periods had 70% reduced odds of reporting depressive symptoms than those who did not eat chocolate.” This is because “Dark chocolate contains phenylethylamine, a neuromodulator implicated in mood regulation.” Check out these recipes for Hazelnut Milk Dark Chocolate Latte, Crunchy Blood Orange Breakfast Oatmeal with Dark Chocolate Chips, and Baked Pears with Coconut Cream, Toasted Walnuts and Dark Chocolate Drizzle.
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids consist of three acids: a-linolenic acid (ALA), found in plants, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). They are essential in our bodies and have been known to have a strong connection with relieving anxiety. One study has shown that consuming high dosage Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplements may dramatically decrease anxiety-related symptoms in those with a clinical diagnosis. Plant-based sources include walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, edamame, seaweed, and algae. Check out these recipes for Walnut and Fig Slices, Wholegrain Flaxseed and Sesame Crackers, and Creamy Mango Chia Pudding.
Not only do avocados taste delicious, but they are incredibly nutritious and contain a big variety of nutrients. They are high in Vitamin K, C, B5, B6, E, folate, and potassium. It also contains smaller amounts of manganese, copper, iron, magnesium, and zinc. The majority of the fat in an avocado is oleic acid, which is a type of monounsaturated fatty acid that helps protect the cells in your brain and reduces inflammation. Check out these recipes for Matcha Avocado Smoothie, Greek Avocado Toast, and Avocado Quinoa Salad.
Tomatoes can do wonders for mental health because they are rich in the antioxidant lycopene. Not only does this give them their color, but it helps protect against cell damage. In one study, “Researchers assessed the mental health and dietary habits of 986 Japanese people aged over 70 years. They found that those who reported eating tomatoes two to six times a week were 46% less likely to report mild or severe symptoms of depression than those who said they ate tomatoes less than once a week.” Check out these recipes for One-Pot Sun-Dried Tomato and Chickpea Stew, Low FODMAP Creamy Tomato Risotto, and Polenta Frittata With Mushroom, Tomato, and Basil.
Dark green leafy vegetables
Dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach, collard greens, chard, arugula, and broccoli are rich in vitamin K, beta carotene, and folate. These nutrients do wonders for brain health and may even help slow cognitive decline. In addition, dark leafy greens contain the compound chlorophyll—the pigment that makes plants green, which contains magnesium and has been shown to help reduce anxiety. Check out these recipes for Spinach and Garlic White Bean Dip, Tahini Kale Protein Bowl, and Blanched Collard Wraps.
- 15 Plant-Based Foods to Keep Your Brain Young
- 10 Incredible Foods to Keep Your Brain Healthy
- 10 Foods That May Benefit Your Brain And Boost Your Mood
- 5 Diet Changes That Can Help You Take Charge of Your Mental Health This Year
Learn How to Cook Plant-Based Meals at Home
Reducing your meat intake and eating more plant-based foods is known to help with chronic inflammation, heart health, mental wellbeing, fitness goals, nutritional needs, allergies, gut health and more! Dairy consumption also has been linked to many health problems, including acne, hormonal imbalance, cancer, prostate cancer and has many side effects.
For those of you interested in eating more plant-based, we highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest plant-based recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy! And, while you are at it, we encourage you to also learn about the environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet.
Here are some resources to get you started:
- Weekly Vegan Meal Plans
- Plant-Based Health Resources
- Plant-Based Food & Recipes
- Plant-Based Nutrition Resources
- The Ultimate Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition
- Budget-Friendly Plant-Based Recipes
- High Protein Plant-Based Recipes
- Plant-Based Meal Prep
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