7 MOOD-BOOSTING FOODS
Your brain is like an expensive car—it works best when given premium fuel. From oatcakes to
fermented drinks, here are the foods that both your brain and your taste buds will love.
These humble pulses are inexpensive, versatile and wonderfully nourishing. Just one serving of
lentils contains 12g fibre, which helps to fill you up and balance your blood sugar—contributing to
a nice, even mood.
Lentils are also a source of folate. This vitamin has many critical functions in the body, including
assisting in the production of neurotransmitters. In fact, studies show that people who are low in
folate are more likely to feel down.
It’s easy to incorporate lentils into your diet. Try adding them to a Bolognese, or stirring a good
handful into soup. They can also be sprinkled over salads.
Oily fish—which includes salmon, sardines, mackerel, anchovies and herring—are rich in omega-3
fats. This type of fat is known as ‘essential’ because we can’t make it ourselves. That means we
have to get it from our diet.
The brain is 60% fat, and it’s particularly dependant on a regular intake of this macronutrient. In
fact, eating the right kinds of fats helps to keep our brain cell membranes flexible, so they’re more
receptive to those neurotransmitters.
Salmon can be a good choice for any meal. Try smoked salmon for breakfast, enjoy poached
salmon with a salad for lunch, or pop some salmon chunks in a fish pie for dinner.
3) Nairn’s oatcakes
Not only are oatcakes a lighter alternative to bread, but they’re also a smarter choice when it
comes to our mood. Oats provide a good dose of energy-supporting carbohydrate in a low-GL
form. This means the energy is released slowly, helping to create a calm mind and a nourished
Oatcakes are even better for the brain when paired with a form of protein. Try Nairn’s oatcakes
with your favourite nut butter, slather them in hummus or even top with some smoked salmon (see
4) Brazil nuts
These are satisfyingly creamy and crunchy and, like most nuts, they’re also incredibly good for you.
Along with the healthy monounsaturated fats, they’re a valuable source of the mineral selenium. In
fact, all you need is three Brazil nuts daily to meet your target of this nutrient!
Never heard of selenium? We need it in very small amounts, but it has a big impact on our mood.
Studies show that people who are low in selenium have higher rates of depression, anxiety and
Try adding sliced Brazil nuts to your morning porridge, or eat some with fruit for a healthy snack.
The world is waking up to the value of fermented foods—and for good reason! This old-fashioned
way of preserving foods fills them with good bacteria.
You have a huge mass of bacteria and other microorganisms living in your intestines. We don’t yet
know everything they do, but we do know they help us to digest our food, synthesise vitamins and
create our neurotransmitters. This means our bacterial friends can influence our mood.
Kombucha is a type of fermented tea. Your gut bacteria like it—which means your brain will too.
What’s more, because it’s naturally effervescent, it’s a great alternative to fizzy drinks.
6) Dark chocolate
Can chocolate really be good for you? Your brain certainly thinks so. Several studies have found
that eating chocolate stimulates the release of endorphins, naturally boosting your mood.
However, it’s best to stick to dark chocolate. This is because it contains a lower concentration of
energy-zapping sugar, and a higher concentration of health-boosting flavonoids.
Choose chocolate with 70% cocoa solids and above to benefit from its mood-enhancing
properties. If you can work your way up to enjoying 100% chocolate, even better!
From raspberries to blackberries, blueberries to redcurrants, these fruits make a delicious addition
to your daily intake. Most supermarkets now offer a variety of frozen berries, so they’re readily
The pigments in the skin of these dark-coloured berries have been found to benefit the brain.
They contain high levels of antioxidants, which protect brain cells from free radicals. This, in turn,
can help to promote proper function and a healthy mood.
Berries can be stirred into porridge, baked in a crumble, or simply enjoyed fresh. Aim to eat a
large handful daily.