With International Happiness Day landing on March 20, 2022, meal kit delivery company Chefs Plate has researched the best mood-boosting foods.
By picking out exactly which healthy and mood-boosting foods to eat to improve both wellbeing and energy levels, these recipes have been carefully created to leave your diners with a smile on their faces.
The secret? According to Professor Phil Chilibeck, from the University of Saskatchewan, a mood boost can be unlocked with a pulse-based diet.
Pulses are the dry, edible seeds of lentils, beans, chickpeas, and peas. High in protein and containing high-quality carbohydrates (the type of carbohydrates that result in slower, healthier increases in blood sugar), they can act as the perfect pick-me-up that lasts.
Thanks to their powerful mix of protein and fibre, they also act as a non-calorie-dense option that also slows down your digestion to keep you feeling fuller for longer.
“Pulses provide a sustained source of energy to your muscles,” Dr. Chilibeck explains. “The slow rise in blood sugar won’t make you feel as tired as you would after eating carbohydrates that result in fast increases in blood sugar. This can help to boost your mood. The high protein levels in foods like pulses will also result in a mood boost because they may have a stimulatory effect on the brain.
“By reducing harmful blood cholesterol levels, the main benefit is an improvement in cardiovascular health,” he adds. “Pulses can lower the risk of diabetes by reducing your blood sugar level and improving the health of your blood vessels, resulting in a small improvement in blood pressure. Whilst helping to control body weight, the fibre in pulses also provides nourishment for the beneficial bacteria in your gut (i.e. pulses act as a prebiotic) which helps with overall health.”
Key mood-boosting foods, ingredients, and recipes
“Pulses can easily be incorporated into salads, soups, spaghetti sauces, chilli, or other meals,” Dr. Chilibeck suggests.
Here are some suggested pulse-based recipes for a satisfying meal to keep your diners feeling good all day long. Lentils, pulses, and beans make an ideal substitute for protein in a vegetarian and vegan diet too.
Key ingredient #1: black beans
With a healthy combination of plant-based protein and fibre, beans can help to slow down how the body’s glycogen levels respond to a meal, in turn helping to maintain steady energy levels. Plus, with the most protein per gram compared to other plant-based foods, beans can help you to stay fuller for longer due to their high-fibre credentials.
Key ingredient #2: cannellini beans
High in protein and naturally low in fat, sugar and salt – cannellini beans help to absorb the dish’s flavours while providing a guaranteed source of energy.
Key ingredient #3: lentils
Simply a superfood, lentils are a type of pulse containing Vitamin B6 (low levels of which have been connected to depression) whilst being primed with fibre and protein. In fact, just one portion of pulses made up of three heaped tablespoons makes up a sixth of the protein that you need in a day.
Key ingredient #4: chickpeas
An ideal alternative to meat, protein-rich chickpeas ensure that any vegetarian diet still contributes towards healthy muscle growth by providing a strong source of energy production.
Key ingredients #5 & #6: sesame seeds & salmon
Positively loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, the 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.
Key ingredient #7: brown rice
For a hit of serotonin, choose fibre-rich brown rice that can help to release the feel-good chemical for a mood boost. Thanks to its nutrient-rich credentials, brown rice contains even more nutritional value than its processed white counterpart.
Key ingredient #8: sweet potato
Supplying magnesium, iron and Vitamin C, these serotonin-producing, antioxidant-rich, and carbohydrate-filled potatoes can help to enhance both your mood and energy levels.
Key ingredient #9: avocado
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 wellbeing and mood.
Key ingredient #10: eggs
Tap into a steady source of sustained energy by incorporating Vitamin B6-rich eggs into your daily diet, and turbo boost your body’s enzymes as the vitamin works to help convert food into energy.