Brain food for your mood

Can food really influence our mental wellbeing?

A randomised controlled trial of dietary improvement for adults with major depression (known as the SMILES trial) was the first study in the world to show how what you eat can improve symptoms of those with diagnosed depression.

Over a 12-week period participants were helped to follow a modified Mediterranean Diet, which revealed that making changes to the diet can have a positive impact on mental health outcomes.

Before you start googling Mediterranean Diet (and working out how you will convince the family to eat endless amounts of salmon, avocado and eggs!) check out some of our favourite brain boosting meal recipes below.

Not all of them follow the traditional Mediterranean Diet ‘rules’ but they are all full of the essential ingredients proven to help your brain be happy and healthy. 

It is worth noting that mental health is a complex issue and food alone cannot treat or cure depression, anxiety, stress or other diagnosed disorders. 

Anyone with a medical condition is advised to seek independent advice from their health practitioner before following our recipe guide below.

Chocolate Avocado Mousse with Cacao Nibs

Chocolate avocado mousse with cacao nibs
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What’s so good about it?

Well aside from taking about 3 minutes to make, and tasting like heaven, it’s packed with brain boosting ingredients such as:

  • Avocado: Incredibly nutritious and packed with healthy monounsaturated fats that is said to support healthy blood flow and information-carrying nerves in the brain.
  • Almonds: Packed full of omega-3 fatty acids which are said to help the delay of age-related cognitive decline, and act as antioxidants in the brain to reduce inflammation.

  • Cacao: Rich in a phytonutrient known as a flavonol. Flavonols have been shown in numerous studies to improve blood flow to the brain and in turn improve mental focus and attention span.
There are different versions of this recipe online but click here for our fave. 

Roast Chicken with Pepita & Fig Brussels Sprouts

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What’s so good about it?

You might hear brussels sprouts and think – there is NO WAY my kids will eat that, but as with most things, when you pair them with butter, garlic and a few other key ingredients everyone loves them.

Aside from the brussels sprouts, which are a good source of ALA omega-3 fatty acids to support the health of your brain, heart and immune system, the other key brain boosting ingredients in this meal are chicken, and pepitas (also known as pumpkin seeds), both of which are great sources of:

  • Tryptophan (which converts into Serotonin - critical for mood, behavior and cognition).
  • Tyrosine (which converts to Dopamine – a chemical released in the brain that makes you feel good).

Find the recipe for Matt Preston’s Juicy Roast Chicken (our fave) here and the Pepita & Fig Brussels Sprouts here. Note: You may swap the figs for dates if you like things extra sweet.

Matcha Smoothie Bowl

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What’s so good about it?  

Matcha is one miraculous ingredient that is a must have for us in the mornings. It has many health benefits but the three main ones for the brain are:

  • L-theanine: Known for increasing alpha waves in the brain. Alpha waves are associated with mental relaxation and with helping to fight off the signs of stress.
  • Caffeine: Giving a boost of alertness which when paired with the L-theanine gives a prolonged buzz without the crash.
  • EGCG: Short for epigallocatechin gallate, which has been linked to a better mood and memory.

There are loads of different matcha bowl recipes online to suit your individual tastes. Click here to see one of our faves.