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Mood food: ten delicious and nutritious recipes to naturally boost your mood, ease stress and cheer you up

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When you eat a healthy diet, your body reaps the benefits - both physically and mentally. Happiness relies partly on good health, which in turn is influenced by what we eat.

But the connection goes deeper than that. For years, scientists have studied the effect of vitamins and minerals such as B12, folate and omega-3 on mood and well-being. A deficiency in these nutrients may lead to feelings of depression, fatigue and apathy and conversely, making them a regular part of your diet may work to elevate your mood and relieve mood swings. 

The impact of these nutrients are still being studied and of course, there's no miracle food that will instantly lift or kill your mood. But there's no doubt that certain vitamins and minerals play a key role in maintaining normal neurological function and enhance the production of serotonin, norepinephrine and melotonin - hormones that directly impact mood. 

In other words, a healthy, balanced diet is a great place to start in boosting your mood. 

With that in mind, we've taken a look at some of the best and most delicious mood-lifting recipes around, from roasted butternut and pomegranate salad to grilled salmon with avocado salsa and dark chocolate brazil nut cookies. Enjoy!

  • Roasted butternut salad with pomegranate and candied bacon

    Great for: antioxidants

    This gorgeous salad is brimming with feel-good ingredients, from butternut squash to baby spinach, pomegranate, walnuts and orange juice dressing. This makes it a powerhouse of antioxidants, including beta-carotene and vitamins C and E. All three are able to neutralise the damaging effect of free radical molecules that contribute to ageing and dysfunction. Studies have also found vitamin C to have a mood-elevating effect. Candied bacon adds a guilty pleasure edge. 

    Find the recipe here

    Source: thecafesucrefarine.com/Pinterest 

  • Double dark chocolate cookies with brazil nuts

    Great for: antioxidants and the mineral selenium

    We all know chocolate to be a mood-booster and this assumption is backed by science. Dark chocolate is a rich source of antioxidants called flavonoids and has been shown to reduce the level of the stress hormone cortisol and the "fight-or-flight" hormones known as catecholamines, in highly stressed people.

    This recipe also features brazil nuts, which contain the mineral selenium. Low levels of selenium have been linked to anxiety and tiredness, so boosting your body's level of the mineral may work to improve your mood. 

    Find the recipe here

    Source: thehealthyfoodie.com/Pinterest

  • Green chickpea and chicken curry with Swiss chard

    Great for: vitamin B6

    This recipe ticks a whole load of mood-boosting boxes - and it's super-tasty to boot. Chickpeas and chicken are rich in vitamin B6, which helps the body make the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine - both key influencers of mood. Some scientists believe B6 may alleviate depression and symptoms of PMS. Chard is an excellent source of vitamin C, E and A, which work to reduce oxidative stress. And the recipe includes coconut, a triglyceride-containing fruit that has been linked to improved mood.  

    Find the recipe here

    Source: thecrepesofwrath.com/Pinterest

  • Grilled salmon with avocado salsa

    Great for: vitamin B12 and folate

    Avocado is a great source of folate, which supports the regulation of serotonin - the chemical responsible for mood balance. Salmon is rich in B12, a vitamin that plays an important role in allowing for normal neurological function. Folate and B12 are often used together in tackling depression - giving this healthy meal lots of potential as a mood-booster. 

    Find the recipe here.

    Image: thecookierookie.com/Pinterest

  • Pork and black bean burritos

    Great for: vitamin B12 and folate

    Another dish that provides a double whammy of B12 and folate is burritos. This recipe has beef for vitamin B12, with black beans for folic acid. As an added bonus, it also comes with kale, cheese and flour tortillas - all important sources of calcium, which is associated with relieving mood swings

    Find the recipe here

    Source: bevcooks.com/Pinterest

     

  • Linguine with sardines and spinach

    Great for: Omega-3

    omega-3 is an essential fatty acid that has been linked to mood stabilisation and better mental health. Omega-3s from fish seem to have positive effects on clinically defined mood swings such as postpartum depression. Spinach is also a rich source of omega-3, making this dish a winner. 

    Find the recipe here

    Source: tablespoon.com/Pinterest

  • Moroccan spiced lamb burgers with apricot chutney

    Great for: iron

    The lean ground lamb and apricot found in this deliciously inventive dish are full of iron, which helps maintain energy levels and transport oxygen around the body. Not getting enough iron - iron anemia - has been linked to apathy, depression, and rapid fatigue when exercising.

    Find the recipe here

    Source: halfbakedharvest.com/Pinterest

  • Pasta pesto with broccoli and green beans

    Great for: chromium

    Broccoli is leading a source of chromium, a trace mineral that helps metabolise food and regulate emotion via increasing the brain's level of serotonin and melatonin. It has been found to alleviate atypical depression, a condition marked by excessive sleep, carbohydrate craving and overeating, and hypersensitivity to rejection. Green beans also contain a fair amount of chromium. 

    Find the recipe here

    source: eclecticmom.com/Pinterest

  • CREAMY PORTOBELLO AND KALE QUINOA BAKE

    Great for: calcium

    The kale and ricotta in this yummy bake will give you a hearty boost in calcium - a chemical involved in the release of neurotransmitters, which serve as messengers between cells within the nervous system. It's important to regulating mood, and especially in relieving symptoms of PMS

    Find the recipe here.

    Source: amuse-your-bouche.com/Pinterest

  • Sundried Tomato Almond Burgers with cashew cheese

    Great for: magnesium

    This raw vegan recipe contains spinach, almonds, cashews and peanuts - all key sources of magnesium. An important "anti-stress” mineral, magnesium plays an important role in developing serotonin and works to calm the nerves and relax the muscles.

    Find the recipe here.

    Source: tastykitchen.com/Pinterest

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