‘Let Food Be Thy Medicine.’ – HIPPOCRATES
Nobody denies the incredible impact that healthy foods have upon our bodies and minds. We really are what we eat.
However, due to today’s processed food culture, many of us have been taken hostage by junk cravings.
If this sounds like you, don’t stress; there’s a way out!
The more often we practice the daily ritual of eating healthy food, the more our bodies will begin to crave healthier nourishment. We’ll naturally drift further away from our questionable food choices, like a natural re-programming.
This means huge positive changes in our vitality, immune systems, and overall physical and mental well being. By filling our bellies with the nutrient-dense, natural treasures of our Earth… we’re giving our bodies the love they truly deserve. Below are seven foods that have been proven to make you happier and healthier.
The Maca plant has become hugely popular over the last few years, for good reason.
The main edible part of the Maca plant is its root, which is generally dried and consumed in powder form. It tastes earthy, making it the perfect healthy food addition to smoothies or breakfast bowls.
Native to the mountains of Peru, Maca has been traditionally used for increasing energy, enhancing fertility and sex drive, as well as overall stamina.
It’s even said that the Incan Warriors consumed Maca to charge themselves before battle. As if this wasn’t all enough… this superfood is also known to help reduce symptoms of depression, particularly for women going through menopause. A study of menopausal women also found that Maca helped reduce menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes and interrupted sleep.
Tomato skin contains the powerful anti-oxidant lycopene (which contributes to its red colour). Researchers have discovered that people who eat tomatoes regularly are 46 per cent less likely to develop depressive symptoms.
We all know a delicious tomato based recipe. Here’s the perfect chance to justify a big bowl of spaghetti! You can always add tomatoes to your salad, or better yet, cook them. Cooking tomatoes will enhance their antioxidant content.
A diet rich in magnesium has also been shown to minimise the risk of depression. Dark green leafy vegetables (such as spinach or kale) are some of the best sources of magnesium.
Kale contains very little fat, but a large portion of the fat in it is an omega-3 fatty acid called alpha linolenic-acid.
Given its incredibly low calorie content, kale is actually among the most nutritionally-dense foods out there! By eating more kale, you can dramatically increase the total nutrient content of your diet. Try this delicious spinach and kale palak tofu recipe for a real boost.
Chocolate and ‘healthy food’ in the same sentence might seem too good be true. But we assure you it is!
Raw unprocessed cocoa is one of the richest sources of polyphenols on earth. Polyphenols are naturally occurring antioxidants, which provide huge health benefits such as reducing inflammation and stimulating blood flow and brain function. Researchers have also found that cocoa polyphenols have positive effects on mood levels, correlating with higher levels of calmness.
Cocoa also has incredible flavonoids that are anti-inflammatory, as well as stress-reducing chemicals. Anyway, as if we needed an excuse! (For a higher concentration of polyphenols, choose dark chocolate, over milk.)
A daily serving of nuts can have a notable effect on happiness, as well as a whole range of other health benefits. Walnuts are definitely the super-nuts, with higher antioxidant activity than any other common nut. Still, they’re not the only nuts to enjoy when you need a mood lift.
You could go for raw cashews, hazelnuts and almonds – each are packed with good fats, magnesium and B vitamins.
A respectable source of vitamin C, Bananas contain the essential amino acid tryptophan. Bit of a mouthful, it helps us with the production of the feel-good hormone, serotonin.
Plus, potassium is a mineral absolutely essential to heart health – particularly blood pressure regulation. Bananas are also a great source of potassium. An average sized banana actually contains 9% of the recommended daily intake.
Sesame, sunflower, chia and pumpkin seeds are also full of tryptophan, which not only improves your mood, but also helps regulate sleep. What better way to feel happy, than to wake up rested and refreshed?
Ground Flax Seeds are also worth mentioning here. One of the best properties of ground flaxseeds, is that they help enable the body to absorb nutrients more effectively. Adding to that, the’re a rich source of healthy fats like Omega-3s, antioxidants, and a quality fiber – aiding in healthy digestion and disease prevention.
Popular across many cultures for many centuries , fermenting is back in healthy food conversations.
As a provider of ‘good’ bacteria that contributes to a healthy digestive system ,fermented foods, such as miso, kimchi or sauerkraut, are natural sources of probiotics. As well as improving gut health, there is suggested correlation between the intake of probiotics and a reduction in the negative thought patterns associated with depression.
*Note: This post was originally posted in 2017, but we’ve updated it!
Tatiana is a freelance writer and a mum of three living in Sydney. After a 10-years’ break, she has just returned to full-time work. She is still finding time for yoga, meditation and mindfulness, which is making a huge difference to her sanity and her enjoyment of life.