Rebecca Taylor reveals the best mood-boosting plant-based foods to eat this season.
Winter can cause a lot of people to have ups and downs throughout the colder months. But don’t worry, you are not alone. Whether your winter blues have set in already or not, we have you covered. Here we discuss 10 of the best plant-based foods that are affordable and easy to add into your diet to help you beat the winter blues.
Oats aren’t just a cosy start to the morning with a cup of coffee, they also help to regulate your mood. They are very low in glycemic index which keeps your blood sugar levels to stay stable throughout the morning without getting too hungry. Oatmeal is also a good source of mood-boosting selenium which is needed for staying healthy. Plus, they fight off infection and free radical damage.
Lentils are just like other complex carbohydrates, which help to boost your mood by increasing the brains serotonin levels which is your ‘feel good neurotransmitter’. They’re rich in protein, fibre, and many minerals such as B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc, all needed to stay healthy.
If sipping on a hot chocolate in the colder months isn’t the best thing, I don’t know what is. But more to the point, cocoa has many more benefits and vitamins than most people think. Dark chocolate is very rich in antioxidants if you buy a raw form compared to cocoa products with added sugar. Having a few squares of dark chocolate or a mug of hot chocolate will help boost your mood. This works by the compounds in the cocoa that cause the brain to release endorphins. As a result, we feel better and have a more positive mindset.
Just like other carbohydrates, quinoa is a gluten-free carb that increases levels of serotonin in the brain. It has been proven that quinoa is packed full of this as well as being a complete protein. Furthermore, having quinoa with your meals can help balance blood- sugar levels to keep irritability and anxious thoughts settled. Quinoa is such a versatile carbohydrate that can be added to different ingredients to make a tasty meal no matter what.
It is known that fermented foods are high in prebiotics and probiotics which nourish the gut, keeping it strong and healthy. Our gut is like the second brain where the home of feel-good serotonin lives. Fermented foods that are high in probiotics include kombucha, kimchi, kefir and sauerkraut. Also, there’s a wide range of probiotics drinks, supplements and foods with added probiotics in many supermarkets. Fermented foods are also very easy to add into your daily lifestyle and you will definitely be reaping the benefits.
A very accountable and evidence based fruit that truly does lift your mood. Bananas are a complex carbohydrate and a good source of vitamin B6 which is needed to convert tryptophan to serotonin. This fruit is also highly affordable and can be used in all kind of things to get your daily intake such as muffins, cakes, pancakes or just with a spoonful of almond butter.
Walnuts are a good source of omega-3s that help towards boosting mood and beating those unwanted winter blue feelings. These nuts are another great food to add into your daily food intake such as having them as a snack, roasting them with spices, toasting them to add on top of salads or even using them as a base to make a plant-based nut roast dinner.
Avocado makes everything better right? Well let’s just say most of the time. The fruit is an amazing source of healthy fats and omega-3 fatty acids as well as vitamin B which we already discussed, is needed for boosting serotonin levels. Another great versatile food that can be used in many ways as part of a plant-based diet. Avocado on toast, add to nourish bowls, avocado mousse or guacamole. It’s a win all round.
Pumpkin seeds can be roasted, raw or slightly salted and are tasty all three ways. They are high in zinc which is needed for good brain function, energy production and helping with appetite control. Just like walnuts, these seeds can be sprinkled on top of dishes, roasted as a snack or added into baked muffins.
This is one of those greens that can be added to pretty much anything savoury. For example, you could add to plant-based spinach to curries, soups and stews.If you are deficient in iron, it can result in feeling fatigued and tired which in the colder months is just not what you need. Spinach is high in iron, which can naturally increase your energy levels as it is full of multiple B vitamins to boost your mood.