6 Snacks That Could Boost Your Mental Health
(AscendHealthy.com) – What we eat can impact our health…and that includes our mental health. Our brain is an organ that benefits from good nutrition. Choosing the right snacks can help support mental health, boost mood and reduce stress. There’s even evidence that unhealthy snacks lead to reduced cognition.
So, what should you eat for improved mental health?
Frequently eating fruit was associated in one study with reduced symptoms of depression, less anxiety, and lower levels of stress. While some of this might be that it’s harder not to reach for unhealthy snacks when already stressed, there are multiple indicators that frequent fruit consumption helps your brain and mood.
Frequency is more important than quantity, with the best results from eating a small portion of fruit a couple of times a day. Whole fruits are better than fruit-flavored snacks. However, dried fruit has also been shown to be helpful. Berries, especially blueberries, are particularly great for your mood.
Nuts are full of nutrients your brain needs. Consuming nuts regularly helps improve cognition and memory. As each type of nut has different benefits, it’s a good idea to consume a variety of nuts, whether together or separately. Walnuts are particularly good as they have a lot of DHA, which supports brain health.
Nuts also contain a lot of protein, which makes you feel fuller and means you are less likely to eat something less healthy.
If you must have something sweet, opt for a small amount of dark chocolate. Consumed in moderation, dark chocolate contains flavonoids that improve blood flow to the brain and studies show chocolate can improve cognitive function. Chocolate is also well known for lifting mood, although it is unclear whether this is because it tastes good or because it affects your brain.
By choosing dark, bitter chocolate over sweeter, you reduce sugar consumption, get all of the benefits of chocolate, plus it tastes good. Spiced dark chocolate is also a good choice, if you like hot food. Capsaicin is associated with better cognition in older people and can also lift your mood by inducing mild euphoria.
A small cup of yogurt is a great snack (as well as, of course, a great breakfast food. Yogurt that contains lactobacillus can also improve digestive health…and can also potentially improve mood. By rebalancing your gut, yogurt increases serotonin levels and reduces depression. Animal studies have even shown that yogurt containing lactobacillus can reverse depression symptoms.
For extra impact, mix in some fruit or berries so that you get the awesome benefits of both foods. Again, yogurt also improves your digestive health, and we are learning more and more that a healthy gut leads to a healthy brain!
Brightly colored vegetables such as carrots, bell peppers, and tomatoes can also boost mood. Natural bright colors show that food has antioxidants, which can boost mood. Snacking on raw carrots is a great way to get your vegetables in for the day, improve your mood, and increase your intake of vitamins.
Just be careful of dairy-based dips, which can be a little fattening if you eat too many of them.
Edamame is immature soy beans served inside their pods. It’s often served as an appetizer at sushi restaurants. Edamame is a healthy food (unless you have been advised to limit soy) that contains a lot of magnesium, which your brain needs to make serotonin. It does need to be cooked, but it can just be heated with a bit of salt.
Eating the right snacks can help boost your mood, reduce anxiety and stress, and improve the health of your brain. Enjoy these fun snacks to improve your mental health and reduce your consumption of processed food.
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