Mood boosters: 10 foods to eat to cheer you up during lockdown

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You are what they eat, they say. While no lifestyle choice will make you immune to coronavirus, there are a few things you can do to improve your health, mood and immune system during this difficult time. The easiest way is by eating mood-boosting foods. Express.co.uk chats to Nutribuddy’s Educational Nutritionist Kelly Rose to find out what you should eat to help you stay positive while stuck at home.

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Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are a delicious snack when you can’t be bothered to make anything.

Kelly says: “Not only are nuts and seeds a perfect protein, fat, antioxidant and fibre rich source of nutrition, many are high in tryptophan, an amino acid essential in the production of serotonin.”

Serotonin is an important chemical and neurotransmitter in the body.

It regulates your mood, appetite, digestion, sleep, sexual desire, memory and function.

Kelly recommends cashews, walnuts, peanuts, almonds, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower and soybeans.

She says: “A few brazil nuts a day provides you with selenium which is one of the important antidepressant scale nutrients.

“They’re great as snacks, additions to salads, roasted and added into savoury dishes or soaked and made into dips, butter or nut milks.”

READ MORE- Coronavirus: How to look after your mental health during lockdown

Countdown blunder: Rachel Riley's huge mistake after replacing Carol Vorderman exposed

Healthy food is essential in combatting poor mental health (Image: Getty)

Countdown blunder: Rachel Riley's huge mistake after replacing Carol Vorderman exposed

Fill yourself with goodness and you will feel better in no time (Image: Getty)

Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are a delicious snack when you can’t be bothered to make anything.

Kelly says: “Not only are nuts and seeds a perfect protein, fat, antioxidant and fibre rich source of nutrition, many are high in tryptophan, an amino acid essential in the production of serotonin.

Serotonin is an important chemical and neurotransmitter in the body.It regulates your mood, appetite, digestion, sleep, sexual desire, memory and function.

Kelly recommends cashews, walnuts, peanuts, almonds, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower and soybeans.

She says: “A few brazil nuts a day provides you with selenium which is one of the important antidepressant scale nutrients.

“They’re great as snacks, additions to salads, roasted and added into savoury dishes or soaked and made into dips, butter or nut milks.”

Countdown blunder: Rachel Riley's huge mistake after replacing Carol Vorderman exposed

Nuts and seeds are the perfect lockdown snack (Image: Getty)

Leafy greens

We do not eat nearly enough leafy greens in the UK, according to Kelly

She says: “They are packed with folate needed to reduce fatigue and improve mood, and vitamin C essential to a strong immunity.”

Examples of leafy green include watercress, beet leaves, chard, kale, spinach, wild garlic, lettuce, basil and other fresh herbs.

Not sure how to cook with leafy greens? Kelly suggests adding them to smoothies, using them in salads, adding them into curries or soups, or using them to make pesto.

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Countdown blunder: Rachel Riley's huge mistake after replacing Carol Vorderman exposed

Add leafy greens to your favourite food (Image: Getty)

Beans and lentils

High in fibre and nutrient dense these unsung heroes count as 1 of your five a day, according to Kelly.

She says: “Eating a variety of beans and or lentils daily means you consume at least 4 of the 12 nutrients pinpointed as crucial to positive mental health.

“It can be no accident that the longest living people around the world are eating at least a daily serving.”

If you buy beans and lentils dried, they come cheaper.

All you need to do is soak them and boil them well.

However, lentils do not need to be soaked, just rinse them well and boil them for approximately 30 minutes.

You can use beans and lentils in a number of things, including soups, curries, chilli, dips, hummus, salads, falafels or burgers.

Countdown blunder: Rachel Riley's huge mistake after replacing Carol Vorderman exposed

Beans and lentils are delicious and can be used in a number of recipes (Image: Getty)

Wholegrains including rice and oats

Rice and beans together provide a complete protein source, explains Kelly.

Wholegrains are cheap to buy and easy to cook with, so why not stock up on them?

Kelly says: “The goodness is literally in these products as whole grain, before the processing, and so choosing brown or wild/coloured rice varieties unprocessed and the same with oats will provide B vitamins to support a healthy nervous system and energy production and lots of fibre.”

Oats are an example of a wholegrain that contains protein and a range of antioxidants, as well as at least 4 nutrients named on the antidepressant food scale.

Other wholegrains to try are include barley, rye, and millet.

Countdown blunder: Rachel Riley's huge mistake after replacing Carol Vorderman exposed

Wholegrains are a kitchen staple (Image: Getty)

Garlic

Garlic isn’t only good for scaring off vampires or giving you bad breath, it’s great for your health.

Kelly says: “This powerful natural prebiotic is packed with zinc, an essential nutrient in immune health, and also one of the identified antidepressant nutrients.”

Research backs up the humble onion genus species, suggesting that garlic improves anxiety and reduces stress.

An easy way to cook with garlic is by adding it with some onions and other ingredients to make a soup.

You can use garlic in a number of recipes, from stir fry, to pasta sauce, to curry.

You could even use it in dips, like salsa, guacamole, and hummus.

Bell Peppers

Peppers feature highly in the antidepressant nutrient profile, Kelly explains.

This is because of their “high levels of vitamin C, A and E amongst a whole host of other antioxidants and compounds.”


Kelly says: “Peppers are also suggested to reduce risk of certain cancers and eye disease due to the carotenoids including beta-carotene (a form of vitamin A), lutein and zeaxanthin found in these tasty veggies.”

Bell peppers can be chopped up and eaten raw with hummus or another dip.

Alternatively, you can roast them in the oven and serve with any dish or blitz up into a roasted pepper soup.

Avocados

Who doesn’t love avocados?

Avocados are known for being a healthy ‘superfood’ due to their high quantity of antioxidants.

They’re also packed with an array of nutrients including protein, essential fats and carbohydrates, and fibre, explains Kelly.

Avocados are actually classified as a prebiotic, meaning they induce the growth of beneficial microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi.

This means avocados encourage good bacteria on your gut to flourish, aiding your digestive system.

What’s not to love? They’re also full of magnesium, iron, zinc, vitamin A, C and vitamin B.

Kelly suggests mashing some of this miracle food on some sourdough to make avocado on toast, use it to make some guacamole, or add it into a smoothie for a creamy consistency.

Seafood

The highest scoring non plant-based foods on the antidepressant scale are oysters, mussels and organ meats, says Kelly.

She added: “This is due to the matching of the identified nutrients like zinc, iron, selenium, B12 and omega 3 fatty acids.

“The zinc content in seafood (especially high in oysters) seems to be helpful in reducing depression and low mood, great for our digestive health.


“B12 is found in seafood and as well as helping boost the mood, it is protective to brain health.

“Studies show omega 3 fats are associated with a lower risk of major depression and reducing new incidence of low mood or depressive episodes.”

Brits are recommended to eat 2 portions of fish per week, one of which is oily such as salmon or sardines.

If you’re veggie or vegan, take algae-based omega 3 supplements instead.

Dark hot cocoa drink

Kelly explains that the mood boosting properties of chocolate are a bit controversial.

She said: “this may be because consuming chocolate high in sugar may be more of a comfort but less of an actual mood support.

“Dark chocolate higher than 75-90% of cocoa contains powerful polyphenol compounds with antioxidant properties which may boost mood.”

In a 2013 study, female participants drank hot cocoa, and those consuming drinks with the highest polyphenol content reported feeling calmer and happier.


She suggests Nutribuddy’s HotSlim drink.

It contains cocoa powder but zero sugar.

Instead the drink is sweetened with a natural zero calorie sweetener, stevia.

As well as including cocoa, the drink also contains wholegrains such as oats which are another key mood-boosting ingredient.


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