Eating Your Way To Better Mental Health

Eating Your Way To Better Mental Health

While it is well known that eating lots of fruits and vegetables can be good for your physical health, recent studies show that an increase in the consumption of good and healthy foods can result in an improvement in your psychological well-being and your long-term life satisfaction as well.

‘When we come to understand that finding well-being along our food journey lies in the experience of food, we begin to choose our meals and prepare them with a new outcome in mind. By changing the experience of food preparation, eating becomes well-being. And when we eat better, we feel better,’ said Chantal Lascaris, author of The Ultimate Salad Book.

Lascaris has compiled six helpful (and delicious) salad suggestions to keep in mind when it comes to eating your way to improved mental and physical well-being.

Eat your vegetables raw. From the staples of lettuce and spinach, to chopped carrots and cucumber, raw vegetables are packed with fibre and plant compounds that offer an array of benefits for your health. A study of 422 young adults found that eating raw vegetables was associated with good mental health and mood.

Go nuts! While you may not have previously thought to include nuts and seeds in your salads, options like pistachios, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, almonds and peanuts all make for highly nutritious additions. A word of caution, however, is to look for the raw or dry-roasted varieties to ensure you aren’t crunching on something that is loaded with added salt, sugar and other preservatives.

A Protein Fix. Eating salads doesn’t mean that you need to cut chicken, fish or meat from your diet. In fact, several studies have shown a direct link between meat consumption and lower levels of depression and anxiety.

Right as grain. Adding whole grains, such as cooked brown rice, quinoa and barley to your salads brings a new texture to the dish, with a variety of new flavours as well. Available at most grocery stores, they are a good source of fibre and protein, helping you to feel full and satisfied for longer.

A fruitful outcome. Even though most people tend to think of salads as a combination of vegetables, fresh fruit can be added as a different and delicious topping – with added health benefits. The nutrients found in both fruit and vegetables can have a positive impact on our brain chemistry, which in turn positively influences our mood, memory and cognitive abilities. A diet that is high in these things also tends to reduce the risk of being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder – making regular salads as good for you, as they are to eat!

Herbs and more herbs. You are likely no stranger to using herbs to add flavour or fragrance to a dish. And doing so with your salads brings its own benefits. Fresh herbs like basil, mint, rosemary, parsley, sage and coriander bring unique flavours to any salad, as well as some interesting health effects. Research has shown, for example, that a compound in rosemary and sage may have anti-cancer properties, while cilantro may help to fight inflammation.

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Chantal Lascaris