While there are lots of foods available in the supermarkets labelled as “superfoods”, there is no official definition behind the distinction. Most of these products aren’t offering superior nutrition compared to their competitors and it’s really just used as a marketing ploy to influence our preferences. In our opinion, there are only a few foods that should be called “superfoods” because they have numerous health benefits when included in the diet regularly. We’ve made a list below of some of those superfoods as they are particularly beneficial for mental health. You’ll notice that some of the mood-boosting superfoods we’ve listed below aren’t packaged foods, which is why we don’t typically hear as much about them being heralded!
1. Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
Extra-virgin olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids and also contains an abundance of polyphenols and bioactive compounds, and it’s the polyphenols that shine here! They are potent antioxidants which have been shown to enhance mood, reduce inflammation and slow down cognitive decline.
2. Plant-based foods
These have many health benefits and include wholegrains, legumes, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds. These foods are all high in antioxidants and fibre, which has been linked to enhanced mood. They are also high in B vitamins, folate and magnesium, which, along with vitamin D, are nutrients that have been linked with risk of depression. When it comes to plant-based foods, aim to eat 30 different plant-based foods each week (our founder, Chloe McLeod, shows you how here) by including a variety of different coloured fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, different nuts and seeds and legumes throughout the week.
3. Omega-3 fatty acids
Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, trout, mackeral and fresh tuna. Omega-3 fatty acids assist with the release of serotonin, essentially helping the happy hormone work more efficiently.
Think about adding these amazing foods into your diet, rather than focusing on what to exclude. When we think about the Mediterranean Diet, it promotes an abundance of healthy foods from the wholegrains, vegetables, fruit, olive oil, nuts and seeds groups. Think about how you can incorporate these foods into your diet more often. Naturally, there will be less room for less nutritious options and will help to create a positive mindset around food. Here are some Mediterranean Diet snack ideas you can try to get started.