by Grace Doulé
We know how much the hustle and bustle of college can affect what types of food we are putting in our bodies. It’s easy to choose the quickest food option without considering our health. This doesn’t only have to include physical health, but mental health too. Here is a list of eight easy-to-prep foods to give you a mental health boost. Who doesn’t want that?
As if avocados could not get any better! Avocados contain a B vitamin called folate, which helps reduce depression. In addition, you’ll get a serotonin boost from the cute photo you take of your avocado toast.
Berries contain a compound called anthocyanidins. These compounds are the reason berries can be so beneficial to mental health; they keep your mind sharp and help prevent mental decline. Even if you think it’s too soon to be thinking about mental decline, preventative measures now can make a difference later in life. Plus, berries are delicious and give summer vibes – a mental boost all around.
Beans, soy, oats, quinoa, and even popcorn are all considered whole grains. They offer a variety of B vitamins, which have a positive effect on mood and mental health. They also help with energy production. And they’re budget friendly – whole grains are widely accessible at a relatively low cost.
Salmon is full of omega-3s, vitamin D, and vitamin B-12. Omega-3s help to decrease inflammation in your body and help with the regulation of neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters help keep anxiety low and reduce stress. Salmon’s vitamin D reduces depression, and the vitamin B12 helps you create serotonin.
Spinach, kale, collard greens, broccoli, and swiss chard, just like avocado, are full of folate, as well as other nutrients like iron and calcium. They mainly serve preventative measures and help reduce the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s.
Yogurt plays an important role in reversing depression symptoms via a probiotic bacteria found in live-cultures yogurt. This bacteria lives in our gut, which is connected to our brains through the vagus nerve, and helps regulate our mood. Who knew a cup of oats, berries, and yogurt could help us so much?
Olive oil, especially extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), has a myriad of benefits for both physical and mental health. Mainly, it can decrease the risk of depression and anxiety. It also contains polyphenols, which can help prevent Alzheimer’s and benefit learning and memory.
We’ll end this list on a sweet note. Unlike milk chocolate, dark chocolate holds high levels of flavonoids, which helps with memory retention and delays the onset of depression. It can also help reduce anxiety.
One of my favorite recipes using some of these ingredients is a brown rice bowl with salmon, roasted broccoli, and avocado. You can even include a fifth ingredient if you cook the salmon and broccoli using EVOO. I like to mix up a sauce containing 2 parts EVOO, 1 part lime juice, a clove of garlic, a handful of chopped cilantro, and salt and pepper. You can marinate the salmon in this, and save some off to the side to drizzle on top of the bowl later. Cut up a head of broccoli and toss it in EVOO, salt, and pepper. Roast it in the oven for 20-25 minutes at 350ºF while you grill your salmon and cook your brown rice. Slice up an avocado to throw on top. Assemble the bowl starting with the brown rice, then the salmon, broccoli, and avocado, and drizzle the leftover marinade on top. This meal is easy, filling, and will give you the mental boost you need!