Diet: Add mood boosting foods into diet to reach health goals – ‘tasty way to benefit’

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Nutrition has an undoubted role to play in maintaining and supporting every aspect of people’s health. New and ongoing research suggests certain nutrients, individual foods and eating patterns might be linked to mood disorders and could play a supporting role in mental well-being and even weight loss.

Ian Marber, an independent nutrition therapist, shared four of the top foods proven to boost moods.


Walnuts are packed with omega-3 fats, in the form of alpha-linolenic acid.

They are a notable source of key nutrients that support a range of functions from heart health to mood.

But on a more practical level, they are versatile, portable and easy to find in shops.

Marber recommended using walnuts as a snack between meals, added to yoghurt and berries or porridge for breakfast, or broken into a salad or on top of fish or vegetables enjoyed as a main meal.


Oats are a source of minerals including iron, magnesium and manganese as well as zinc, an essential mineral that is found throughout the body, with the highest amount in regions of the brain.

“A growing body of evidence suggests that zinc deficiency may be a factor underlying depressive symptoms and other mood dysfunction – such as anxiety and irritability – in some cases,” Marber explained.

“100g of oats contain 4mg of zinc, and so 50mg bowl of porridge will offer 21 percent of the recommended daily intake.”

He suggested oatcakes as a great snack that can be topped with nut butter, or crumbled up onto soup, vegetables or salads.


Spinach is a go-to green vegetable as it is rich in vitamins A, C and K as well as magnesium and manganese.

The versatile veg can be enjoyed in many ways, either eaten raw or cooked.

It is also a notable source of folate, which is the naturally occurring form of folic acid found in supplements.

Marber said: “Folate is a B-vitamin that is required by the body to carry out many processes for normal health.

“Low folate status has been linked to depression, with some studies suggesting nearly 30 percent of severely depressed patients have folate deficiency.

“Achieving adequate folate intakes may improve clinical outcomes in certain mental health conditions.”

Around 100g of raw spinach contains 194mcg of folate, which is a shade less than the recommended nutrient intake for an adult of 200mcg.

“Another reason to enjoy spinach is that it is very good value,” he noted.


Berries have a high content of antioxidants known as flavonoids, which can help activate brain pathways associated with better cognition.

Marber revealed that they are also full of polyphenols, which can help manage blood pressure levels and keep blood vessels healthy and flexible, promoting good circulation.

Turmeric and resveratrol – found in red wine – are examples of polyphenol that have health benefits.

“There are some 8,000 polyphenols in total, supporting our health in a variety of ways from head to toe, thanks to its powerful potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties,” said Marber.

“All berries are a good source of polyphenols and so including raspberries, strawberries and blackberries in the diet is a tasty way to benefit from a variety of polyphenols.

“But you may want to favour blueberries as they contain twice as many polyphenols than the others.”

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