What we eat may affect the way we feel, and the latest research found that a Mediterranean diet—one with plenty of fruit and vegetables, fish and whole grains—can help lower the risk of depression in adults. With that in mind, dietitian Sally Shi-Po Poon suggests the following foods to help you naturally boost your mood:

1. Germinated brown rice

Germinated brown rice is rich in gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which helps us to relax and can improve our mood. The amount of GABA in germinated brown rice was found to be 10 times more than that in milled white rice and twice that of regular brown rice.

Carbohydrates are important to ensure a stable amount of glucose in the blood throughout the day, as your brain needs glucose for concentration. Not having enough glucose in our blood can make us feel tired and grumpy. Healthy sources of carbohydrates include whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes and low-fat dairy.  

2. Chicken

Chicken is rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that produces serotonin—otherwise known as the "happiness hormone"—which can assist in boosting your mood. More of this may cross to the brain when carbohydrates are consumed.

Your body can get a healthy dose of tryptophan if you eat a variety of protein-rich foods including meat, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, dairy products, lentils, legumes, nuts and seeds.

See also: More Than Meat: Impossible Foods’ David Lee And Nick Halla On The Future Of Plant-Based Food

3. Spinach

Spinach is an excellent source of folate, a B vitamin that may help reduce the risk of depression. Asparagus, beef liver, brussels sprouts, oranges, kidney beans and fortified breakfast cereals are also good sources of folate.

Since it is a water-soluble vitamin, it is lost easily during cooking. This can be reduced by steaming or microwaving vegetables instead of boiling.

4. Green tea

Green tea contains L-theanine, an amino acid that has calming properties and works with the caffeine to improve concentration. It is vital to drink enough fluids throughout the day, as research shows that even minor dehydration can affect your concentration and mood. Aim for 1.5 to 2 litres fluid per day: water, low-fat milk, plant-based milk, soups, tea and coffee all count.

However, keep in mind that too much caffeine can cause problems like insomnia, headaches, restlessness, and anxiety. Up to 400mg of caffeine per day is safe for most healthy adults, although some people are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than others.

5. Sardines

Sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been proven effective in combatting the risk of depression. Aim for at least two 3.5 ounce (100g) servings of cooked fish per week. Varieties of fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, mackerel, herring, trout, and albacore tuna.

See also: 5 Foods To Eat For Healthy Skin

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