With the sudden major disruption to Canadian’s day-to-day lives, many of us are finding it takes a toll on our mental health and well-being. Fortunately, the topic of mental health is a conversation Canadians are embracing more. And our health is even more important during a time when we’re faced with uncertainty.
Regular physical exercise is essential for mental health (you may have experienced this after going for a run or taking a HIIT class). Another way to protect our mental health is through the foods we choose to eat. You know what they say: You are what you eat. So it makes sense that consuming healthier, whole foods will not only make us feel physically better but also affect our mood and mental well-being.
Here are 7 foods to add to your diet that can boost your mental health:
Walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, which helps boost concentration. Even Harvard Medical School praises the benefits of these mighty nuts. Walnuts are easy to mix into your diet. Chop them up and sprinkle over your oatmeal, add to salads, create your own trail mix or homemade granola. Or simply munch on a handful to snack on between those endless Zoom meetings. You can order these Prana organic raw walnuts from Well.ca.
2. Green Tea
Green tea is another excellent choice for good mental health. Green tea contains L-theanine, an amino acid that helps increase your dopamine levels (the feel-good hormone). According to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), green tea helps you relax and concentrate more fully on tasks. Get your fix of feel-good at DAVIDsTEA. They stock a range of quality loose leaf green teas.
Fish – especially salmon – is a great option for good mental health, according to Global News. Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, both of which are essential to protecting against depression. Fortunately for Canadians, salmon is plentiful and easy to prepare (you can simply roast it in the oven with salt and pepper). If you’re looking for inspiration, we love this Oven-Roasted Salmon with Avocado, Clementine & Quinoa Salad from HelloFresh. This dish gives you a double whammy with the health benefits of avocado. It’s high in fibre and potassium. Perfect for busy parents who want healthy food on the table quickly.
Lentils provide both complex carbohydrates and protein and are packed with B vitamin folate, which helps boost our serotonin levels (serotonin is also known as the “happy hormone”). The combination of carbs and protein also prevents your blood sugar levels from surging, which helps keep your mood and energy levels consistent. Lentils are also versatile. You can use them in salads, soups, homemade dahl, or DIY Buddha Bowl. Well.ca stock a range of lentil products, including French lentils, green lentils, and red lentils.
5. Leafy greens
Dark leafy greens, like kale and spinach, are high in folic acid, an important vitamin in warding off depression. Leafy greens are also packed with vitamin K and beta carotene. Research at Harvard Medical School shows eating these plant-based foods may also help slow cognitive decline. Spring is here, which means sourcing leafy greens should be easier than ever. But if you want a quick fix where you don’t have to do the work yourself, Freshii’s Metaboost salad is loaded with spinach, kale, and field greens.
6. Sweet potatoes
Did you know sweet potato is another top food for mental health? They’re rich in beta-carotene, an antioxidant that helps reduce brain cell damage. Sweet potatoes are also cheap and super easy to prepare. You can mash them, roast them or make sweet potato wedges with olive oil, salt and pepper, and some fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme. HelloFresh.ca also offers a range of meals featuring sweet potatoes, like this vegetarian Sweet Potato Curry with Paneer, Peas and Nutty Brown Rice.
7. Dark chocolate
We’re saving the best news till last. Savouring a few squares of dark chocolate could actually enhance your mental health! The high levels of cocoa in dark chocolate will boost your attention and your mood. So go ahead and indulge your sweet tooth. Lindt Canada offers a range of options, including their 78% pure cocoa dark chocolate or dark hazelnut chocolate.
The bottom line is small changes to your diet can make a big difference in your mental health. Best of all, your body will thank you too!
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