Here at Real Foods we've a huge array of vitamins and supplements to help people get the nutritional support they need, we also have a wide range of the superfoods like spirulina and wheatgrass to pack in the nutrients. But for everyday maintenance and improvement of your health and mood, look no further than food! Here's a quick guide to some of the best…
Sunflower seeds are a great source of folate and magnesium, which play a significant role in regulating and boosting mood. Just a handful of sunflower seeds delivers half the recommended daily amount for magnesium! Magnesium deficiency is often responsible for feelings of fatigue, nervousness, and anxiety (since it triggers an increase in adrenaline), and it’s been linked to various mood disorders. Sufficient, stable magnesium levels, on the other hand, can help you achieve a calm and relaxed state. Scientific studies have shown magnesium supplementation to be beneficial in treating major depression, suicidal tendencies, anxiety, irritability, and insomnia. Folate (also known as vitamin B9 and as folic acid) is a B-complex vitamin that’s intimately linked with nervous system function. Folate deficiency may result in feelings of irritability, depression, and brain fog, as well as insomnia. Sunflower seeds are also good source of tryptophan and are often recommended by nutritional experts as a natural method of boosting serotonin levels. They’re also rich in fibre, which helps maintain stable hormone levels.
(sadly not available online yet, but here's the link to our range instore!)
Full of high-quality protein and omega-3s (from hens eating a diet rich in omega-3s), eggs are also an excellent source of vitamin B12 (riboflavin) and a good source of vitamins B2, B5, and D. One boiled egg contains more than 20% of the daily recommended amount of tryptophan. Whilst carbohydrates are crucial for converting tryptophan into serotonin, protein is also an important part of the process. A balanced diet that includes high-quality lean protein (like you find in eggs and healthy carbs) helps to stabilise blood sugar and prevent emotional highs and lows. The Vitamin B12 in eggs plays a significant role in the production of energy and helps alleviate memory problems and symptoms of depression.
Add your egg to whole-grain toast for a satisfying snack that will give you a boost of long-lasting energy and fuel a feeling of well-being. Complex carbohydrates are a good pairing for protein-rich eggs, since they temporarily produce a calming effect by delivering a dose of tryptophan and triggering the production of serotonin. Carbohydrates also aid in the absorption of tryptophan in the brain.
Apricots are loaded with beta-carotene, and vitamin A which is great for good eye health, and are full of iron and potassium. Apricots are an excellent source of soluble fibre, an important nutrient for heart health. Soluble fibre helps reduce cholesterol by carrying it through the digestive system and out of the body before the intestines have a chance to absorb it. This helps lower the amount of bad cholesterol in the body. Soluble fibre also helps lower blood pressure, decreasing a person’s risk for heart attack, stroke, hypertension, and other heart-related illnesses, five or six apricots (dried or fresh) will relieve constipation. Apricots are an excellent source of natural sugars, and hence, help battle sweet cravings.
These beans contain levodopa (L-dopa), a chemical the body uses to produce dopamine (the neurotransmitter associated with the brain's reward and motivation system). L-Dopa is also used in the treatment of Alzheimer's. Broad beans are excellent sources of vitamins A and C, iron, fibre, potassium and protein. Beans are excellent sources of vitamin B group and protein. They are one of the most nutritionally-complete staple foods; a rich source of a variety of proteins, inexpensive and widely available. They provide the vegetarians protein more than two times as much protein per serving as cereal grains. Beans are also another good source of iron and zinc particularly for vegetarians who do not add meat in their diets. The combination of both beans and cereal grains provide us all the amino acids that our body needs daily.
Much talked about for its cancer-fighting qualities, broccoli is also a great energy provider (as well as being stuffed with fibre, folate, vitamins A and C, potassium and vitamin B2. Folic acid as mentioned before regarding sunflower seeds) is a B-complex vitamin that’s intimately linked with nervous system function. Folate deficiency may result in feelings of irritability, depression, and brain fog, as well as insomnia.
Molasses contain five times more calcium than milk, and are an abundant source of all B vitamins, copper, potassium, and phosphorus. There are also sizable amounts of the trace mineral chromium in blackstrap molasses. Chromium helps maintain blood sugar levels. OK, so don't go overboard as it's still very high in sugar, but a spoonful added to cakes is a far better sweetener than regular cane sugar - and it makes us happy! Blackstrap molasses, produced by the third boiling of the sugar syrup, has the greatest nutritional value. One tablespoon of molasses consumed daily can help replenish your iron stores; helping to correct anaemia (the iron increase will also boost your energy levels.) The calcium in molasses helps to develop and maintain healthy bones and teeth. Consumption of molasses can help with a number of menopause symptoms such as PMS, cramping, mood swings and hot flashes, as well as aiding with bone density problems. Molasses are also high in uridine, which is a building block of DNA as well as a depression fighter. It is believed that molasses consumption can also reduce the size of fibroid tumours, promote the healing of wounds and also binds with toxins in the colon to fight against colon cancer. Individuals diagnosed with diabetes and lupus should consult their doctor before consuming large amounts of blackstrap molasses.
Traditionally walnuts were believed to be good for the brain due to their wrinkled, brain-like appearance. However, this old wives tale could have some truth in it as walnuts are stuffed full of omega 3 fats and antioxidants which are good for brain function as well as containing vitamin B6, tryptophan, protein, and folate. Higher blood levels of omega-3s have been linked with better mood and lower rates of depression, while lower blood levels of omega-3s have been associated with higher rates of depression and negative feelings. The standard dosage of omega-3 oils recommended by many experts is one gram (1,000 mg) per day. You’ll get about the same amount, in just half an ounce of walnuts. About two teaspoons of walnut oil will also do the trick, but you won’t get the all the nutrition (fibre, protein) you would from the whole nut.
Crumble walnuts on top of a serving of organic yogurt for a crunchy and creamy treat with a double-dose of tryptophan!
Oatmeal is a mood booster for a number of different reasons. It contains a lot of soluble fibre, and this will lower blood sugar levels and keep them down. This has the effect of reducing irritability and hunger. Oatmeal takes a while to empty from your stomach, and gives you the energy needed to get through the day without feeling tired or lethargic. It also produces serotonin which can help stabilise and improve your mood. No wonder we're always been told to eat porridge for breakfast! Oats are high in calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin E, B vitamins, protein and more. As well as helping improve your skin, they are brilliant for those suffering from stress and tiredness.
Wholegrain seeds like amaranth, buckwheat, millet and quinoa are healthy, high-protein carbohydrates that that contain important vitamins like B1, B2, and B6 and can significantly enhance the absorption of tryptophan and boost serotonin activity in the brain. They are rich in silicon, which is vital for healthy skin, hair, teeth, eyes and nails and supply you with protein, fats, calcium, iron, vitamin B1 and magnesium. Naturally enzyme rich and absorbed easily these have great nutritional properties. Carbohydrates trigger the release of insulin into the bloodstream, which relaxes you and soothes stress. Since these are slow release complex carbohydrates they won't give you the 'crash effect which many people feel after eating simple carbs like white bread and pasta.
They're cheap, colourful and a brilliant kitchen staple. Lentils pack a double whammy when it comes to mood. Not only are they a complex carbohydrate (see wholegrains above), but they're also high in folate , and it's said that deficiencies in folate are associated with depression and mania., on a lighter note, when it comes to cold-weather comfort food, hearty lentil soup always hits the spot!
Bananas contain vitamins B6, A and C, fibre, tryptophan, potassium, phosphorous, iron and protein. They also have FOS (fructo-oligo-saccharides) to help feed 'good' bacteria in the gut and thus aid digestion. You'll get a quick boost from the fructose (fruit sugars) and sustaining energy from the fibre, which can help prevent a blood sugar spike and a resultant drop in energy and mood. Carbohydrates aid in the absorption of tryptophan in the brain, and vitamin B6 helps convert the tryptophan into mood-lifting serotonin, also helping to boost your mood and aid good sleep. Bananas are also a great source of potassium. Whilst potassium isn’t directly related to mood, it’s needed to regulate fluid levels and keep muscles working properly, which is important to feel energised, key for a sunny outlook! Finally, bananas also offer iron, which is crucial to producing energy and fighting fatigue.