Courtesy of pixy.org
Imagine surrounding yourself with heaps of food—from delicious vegetables to meat to all different kinds of fruit.While most people consider their physical health when buying food, a healthy mental state also stems from the type of nutrition you receive from meals. Especially during quarantine, with isolation from social interaction, mental health has taken a turn for the worse and poses an issue for one in five Americans, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health. In order to help improve mental health, look no further than here for options to boost your mindset.
At the top of your grocery list, consider salmon. Salmon is not only one of the most popular fish on the market, but it is also packed with incredibly nutritious benefits. The reason why salmon is so beneficial for mental health lies within its fat. While many fatty foods result in health deterioration, salmon is abundant with a healthy fat: Omega-3 fatty acids. In a recent study by the National Center for Biotechnology, Omega-3 acids were shown to decrease the risk of depression and developing cardiovascular diseases. Omega-3s are also known to increase memory and help boost efficiency in learning. Not only does salmon possess the healthy Omega-3s, it also contains high levels of Vitamin D. In a study by the US National Institute of Health, it was discovered “as an important factor that may have significant health benefits in the prevention and the treatment of many chronic illnesses.” Having enough Vitamin D in your diet and lifestyle can be beneficial in the prevention of cancers, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Salmon is a great alternative to the popular but unhealthy choice of fish & chips, where all the nutrients are mostly fried out of the fish.
Avocados are also beneficial for boosting mental health. A versatile fruit that can be served on a variety of dishes ranging from breakfast toast to salad to even dessert, avocados possess health benefits rivaling those of salmon. Avocados contain large amounts of monounsaturated fatty acids, which help lower cholesterol levels. Avocados are also high in Vitamins K and E. According to the US National Institute of Health, “Higher dietary vitamin K intake was significantly associated with a lower presence of depressive symptoms.” Vitamin E has strong antioxidant properties, which means that it protects cells in both the brain and body. Having higher levels of Vitamin E in the blood can serve to prevent Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), a disease that causes memory loss and eventually death. Patients with AD were discovered to have lower levels of vitamin E in their bodies. With numerous health benefits and ways to prepare it, avocados are the perfect dish for any occasion.
Finally, dark chocolate might seem to be a surprising choice, but along with salmon and avocado, it has been proven to positively affect mental health! As a dessert or candy, the common assumption is that dark chocolate cannot possibly be beneficial to mental health. Contrary to popular belief, the nutritional benefits of dark chocolate disprove all of those theories. Since dark chocolate is high in cacao, it contains different healthy antioxidants that cannot be found in milk chocolate. The darker chocolate the better, although perhaps biting into pure cacao may be very bitter. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, “Cocoa is rich in plant chemicals called flavanols…[and] dark chocolate contains up to 2-3 times more flavanol-rich cocoa solids than milk chocolate.” Flavanols are useful in improving mood and reducing feelings of depression, according to the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. They also help “stimulate cognitive performance and cerebral blood flow.” The presence of flavonols in dark chocolate makes it have a positive impact on mental health.
There are many foods that have very positive impacts on mental health. Just a few in an entire list of healthy foods include salmon, avocado, and dark chocolate. The composition of these foods can help reduce depression and even help improve moods. Since mental health influences an essential part of people’s lives in quarantine, knowing which foods can make a marked impact on mental health might be the way to structure new quarantine lifestyle habits! Next time you go to the store, consider picking up some dark chocolate or even avocados—it might make you feel better!