Researchers agree that there is a very strong link between food and mood. In the past few years we have seen several studies showing that following a Mediterranean diet can reduce symptoms of depression. And if you are following a Mediterranean style diet, you are less likely to develop depressive symptoms in the first place.
Certain nutrients are associated with better mood including omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, zinc, probiotics and others. In addition, we know that processed foods and junk food is associated with negative moods. While a good diet will not magically transform you, the research does so that it plays an important role in your mood and how we react to stress.
Here are 5 Mediterranean dishes that incorporate those nutrients for better psychological health.
1. Baked Egg with Spinach and Feta
This is an excellent meal for all times of the day and full of nutrients associated with good mood. While the egg white provides protein, the egg yolk is a source of vitamin D and B12. Most people get less than the recommended amount of vitamin D which has been associated with prevention of depression. B12, is a vitamin that can affect mood as well as brain function. Adding the spinach provides an extra dose of antioxidants. Get the recipe here
2. Yogurt with Walnuts
Greek yogurt is a great source of probiotics. Probiotics are bacteria that are known to have health benefits. Studies have shown that probiotics may also improve depressive symptoms. By adding walnuts to your creamy, probiotic yogurt you get another benefit: omega-3 fatty acids which have been associated with lessening the symptoms of depression. In addition, they are a source of polyphenols (antioxidants), folate and vitamin E, all good for your heart.
3. Greek Lentil Soup
This easy to make soup/stew not only is comforting but will make you feel better thanks to the zinc it contains. One large bowl will provide 40% of your daily needs. Zinc appears to be involved in our response to stress. It has been found that individuals with depression have low levels of zinc in their blood. Lentils are a great way to get zinc because you also get plenty of fiber and protein. Get the recipe here
4. Roasted Sardines
Fatty fish is the quintessential good mood food, and that’s because it is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Unfortunately most of us just don’t get enough of this nutrient. Omega-3 fatty acids appear to affect dopamine and serotonin, neurotransmitters that play a role in mood. These fatty acids also reduce inflammation which may affect mood disorders. Get the recipe here
5. Spinach pie or Greens pie
A common snack in Greece, pies are a great way to include greens. Leafy greens are a great source of antioxidants and fiber and are also a plant source of omega-3 fatty acids, all which can contribute to a better mood. Researchers had found that consumption of greens could reduce the risk of depression. Get the recipe here