SINGAPORE - Maintaining a balanced diet not only keeps you healthy, but it can also lift one's mood.
According to a study published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience in 2015, foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, nuts, beans and wholegrain cereal can help prevent depression.
Dr Naras Lapsys, a consultant dietitian at The Wellness Clinic, suggests 10 foods that can help boost one's mood.
Salmon is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids.
These acids have been shown to improve the production of neurotrophic factors, which regulate the growth of new cells in the brain, and play an important role in improved cognition function.
2. Brown rice
Brown rice and other whole grains are a good source of B vitamins, which play an important role in the production of energy as well as the key neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, both of which help to regulate one's mood.
Fermented foods such as kimchi may improve gut health and mood.
The live microorganisms that thrive during fermentation support the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut and may increase serotonin levels.
Walnuts are an excellent plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids. Some of the products of omega-3 broken down by the body are anti-inflammatory. These anti-inflammatory molecules have been associated with optimal brain performance, boosting one's mood and alleviating depression.
5. Green tea
In addition to many health-promoting antioxidants, green tea also contains the amino acid L-theanine. L-theanine increases the activity of an important neurotransmitter called gamma-amino-butyric acid, which has anti-anxiety effects.
Green tea also increases dopamine and the production of alpha waves in the brain. Alpha brain waves are known to ease anxiety, alleviate depression and increase pain tolerance.
6. Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate contains health-promoting flavonoids, which increase blood flow to the brain. This reduces inflammation and improves brain health, which may support mood regulation.
Dark chocolate also has a high hedonic rating, which means its pleasurable taste, texture and smell may also promote good mood.
Eggs and, more importantly, egg yolk, are rich in vitamin D, which helps increase levels of serotonin and improve one's mood. According to studies, vitamin D deficiency is a risk factor for depression in older people.
8. Soya beans
Soya beans and green leafy vegetables contain the B vitamin folate.
A deficiency in folate may impair the proper functioning of the mood regulating neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline.
Oats are an excellent source of fibre, which helps to regulate the digestion of carbohydrates.
A gradual release of sugar into the bloodstream helps to keep energy levels stable, which may help to control mood swings and reduce irritability.
The caffeine in coffee stimulates the release of dopamine, which is important for enhancing performance and mood. Coffee consumption has been shown to protect against the risk of depression. Caffeine affects everyone differently, so timing and moderation are important.
Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.
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