These 10 Mood-Boosting Foods Will Literally Make You Happier
We all know that certain foods can make us feel energized or sluggish, and that's because what we eat can trigger chemical reactions in the neurotransmittersthroughout our brain, heightening or lowering our mood. New research from Canadian-based meal kit delivery service Chef's Platehas revealed the top 10 mood-boosting foods, and what it found is that pulse-based diets are best for keeping us in our happy place. Pulses include beans, lentils, and chickpeas, or low-fat sources of protein and fiber.
“Pulses provide a sustained source of energy to your muscles,” says food and health expert Dr. Phil Chilibeck. "The slow rise in blood sugar won’t make you feel as tired as you would after eating carbohydrates. A slower increase in blood sugar levels will leave you feeling less fatigued after meals and provide more energy for muscles and your brain."
The high protein levels in these foods, he adds, have a stimulatory effect on the brain, which helps give you a mood boost. And for anyone interested ingut-friendly meals: “While helping to control body weight, the fiber in pulses also provides nourishment for the beneficial bacteria in your gut (i.e. pulses act as a prebiotic), which helps with overall health,” he adds. Healthy body, happy mind.
Here are 10 foods to mix into your meal planning with recipes from Chef's Plate to take the guesswork out of cooking them. Scroll down and have a great day!
What's great about beans is that they can help to slow down how your body’s glycogen levels respond to a meal, so you maintain steady energy levels. Think no post-lunch slump. Plus, with a healthy mix of plant-based protein and fiber, beans can help you to stay fuller for longer. (via Chef's Plate)
Ingredients (converted from Canadian metric system)
- 3/4 cup of quinoa
- 1 mango
- 1 lime
- 1 jalapeño
- 1 tbsp chili-cumin spice blend
- 4 oz canned corn
- 1 1/2 cups black beans
- 1 1/2 tsp cilantro
- 1 cup sweet bell pepper
- 1 tsp garlic
- 1/2 cup red onion
- In a strainer, rinse quinoa. To a medium pot, add quinoa, 2 cups water (3 cups water for 4 portions) and 1/4 tsp salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium and cook for 10-12 min, stirring occasionally, until quinoa is until tender but still firm to the bite. Strain, then return to the same pot, off heat. Cover and set aside for 5 min, then fluff with a fork.
- Meanwhile, wash and dry all produce. Peel and cut three-quarters of the onion into 1/4-inch slices. Cut remaining onion into 1/4-inch pieces, then place in a medium bowl. Peel and mince or grate garlic. Cut mango into 1/4-inch pieces, then place in the bowl with the onions. Cut pepper into 1/2-inch pieces. Finely chop jalapeño, removing seeds for less heat. (NOTE: We suggest using gloves when prepping jalapeño!)
- Drain corn and pat dry with paper towels. In a large non-stick pan, heat 2 tsp oil (double for 4 portions) over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add half the corn kernels (use all for 4 portions) and cook for 4-5 min, covered, carefully swirling the pan, until corn is dark golden brown. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl with the onions and mangoes.
- In the same pan, heat 1 tbsp oil (double for 4 portions) over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the sliced onions, peppers and half the jalapeño. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 4-6 min, stirring occasionally, until tender. Reduce heat to medium, then add half the garlic and Chili-Cumin Spice Blend. Cook for 30 sec, stirring to toast. Add black beans with their can liquid and cook for 5-6 min, roughly mashing some of the beans, until thickened.* Season with salt and pepper.
- Meanwhile, zest and juice half the lime. Cut remaining lime into wedges. Roughly chop cilantro. To the medium bowl with the charred corn, add the lime juice, lime zest, half the cilantro, remaining jalapeño, remaining garlic and 2 tsp oil (double for 4 portions). Season with salt and stir to combine.
- Divide quinoa between bowls. Top with black beans, then mango salsa. Sprinkle remaining cilantro over top. Serve lime wedges alongside. Enjoy!
High in protein and naturally low in fat, sugar, and salt, cannellini beans help to absorb the dish’s flavors while providing a guaranteed source of energy.
Our favorite superfood, lentils contain vitamin B6, low levels of which have been connected to depression. So get your lentils in!
An ideal alternative to meat, protein-rich chickpeas contribute to healthy muscle growth by providing a strong source of energy production.
Salmon and Sesame Seeds
Loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, salmon is packed full of nutrients that provide energy and can even help to tackle feelings of depression and anxiety. By coating the fatty fish in sesame seeds, the tryptophan-rich seeds support serotonin production, which can help to relieve tension and relax the body.
Fiber-rich brown rice can help to release the feel-good chemical serotonin for a mood boost. Bonus: brown rice contains even more nutritional value than its processed white counterpart.
With a healthy supply of magnesium, iron and vitamin C, these serotonin-producing, antioxidant-rich potatoes can help to enhance both your mood and energy levels.
Brimming with healthy fats, avocados help your body absorb nutrients, protecting against any harmful free-radicals. Add in vitamin C and antioxidants, and you have a fruit practically designed to boost both well-being and mood.
Get a steady source of energy by incorporating vitamin B6-rich eggs into your daily diet. They aren't just for breakfast anymore!
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Theresa Gonzalez is a content creator based in San Francisco and the author of Sunday Sews. She's a lover of all things design and spends most of her days momming her little one Matilda.