Chelsea from Muslimah Healthy shares with us 6 healthy and delicious foods that fight depression naturally, Masha Allah!
We all do it. We’re feeling a little blue so we indulge in a box of milk chocolates or a bowl of ice cream. There’s something about the sensual sweetness of these foods that make us feel good. But that feeling doesn’t normally last. It’s often accompanied by a guilt trip for having gone off track, or worse, an energy crash!
What if I told you there were foods that fight depression and actually do promote happiness? And I’m talking about good, healthy foods that can boost both your mood and your health. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s totally OK to indulge in your favourite junk foods every now and again. It’s not just OK, it’s necessary! But it shouldn’t become a habit.
In fact, studies show that more than 80% of people regain weight after two years of losing it, and this weight regain is linked to emotional eating. But what if we could find good, whole foods that don’t just make our taste buds happy, but that make our minds happy as well?
Here are 6 healthy foods that fight depression and promote happiness!
Mussels are loaded with beneficial vitamin B-12, a nutrient that is often lacking in the average diet. In fact, just 3 ounces of mussels contains over 300% of the daily recommended value!
Vitamin B-12 deficiency has been linked to depression. Some observational studies have found that up to 30% of depressed patients are deficient in this amazing vitamin.
What’s more, mussels are high in protein, low in fat and calories, and contain trace amounts of other vitamins and minerals. This makes mussels one of the healthiest and nutrient-dense seafood options out there!
Yogurt was one of the foods eaten by our beloved Prophet Muhammad (saw).
Yogurt is a cultured dairy product that enhances the populations of the healthy bacteria, known as probiotics, in your gut.
Researchers studying a group of women, who ate yogurt regularly, found that ingesting these beneficial bacteria can alter the way the brain responds to the environment. In other words, the bacteria in yogurt may help to alleviate anxiety and stress.
Greek or regular yogurt are both healthy choices, but be sure to choose the full-fat option to avoid added sugars. I like to sweeten mine up naturally with a little honey (coming up next) and fresh fruit!
There are a lot of debates about honey and whether or not it is beneficial. Some say it’s just as bad as table sugar while others argue it is a healthier alternative to sugar.
As Muslims, we know the amazing benefits honey has to offer as it was a favourite of Prophet Muhammad’s (saw).
It was narrated from Abdullah that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said:
“You should take the two that bring healing: Honey and the Qur’an.” [Sunan Ibn Majah]
Raw honey is packed with beneficial compounds that reduce inflammation. Inflammation has been shown as a possible factor related to depression.
I’m sure you’ve heard about the amazing health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. Well there is a specific type called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) that is present in nuts, especially walnuts.
Studies have linked low levels of ALA to depression. In one study, women who had the most ALA in their diets were less likely to be depressed.
Low ALA in the blood reduces levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved in many functions including behaviour, attention, and mood. ALA also acts as an anti inflammatory which, as mentioned above, can aid in reduced depression.
Walnuts, or any nuts for that matter, are a great addition to a healthy diet. They can be added to your oatmeal, salads, or are great to have on the side with a piece of fruit for a healthy snack.
Pomegranate is another beloved sunnah food that has been linked to happiness! The juice from pomegranates is packed with plant compounds called phytochemicals. These phytochemicals help stimulate serotonin receptors.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that sends messages throughout the brain regarding sleep, sexual desire, and mood, among many others.
If you’re getting sick of water, drink this amazing juice once a day to up your happiness levels!
6) Dark Chocolate
I had to save the best for last! If you’re feeling down and you’re really craving something chocolaty, look no further than a bar of dark chocolate (the darker the better)!
Dark chocolate contains plant chemicals known as polyphenols, which act as antioxidants and can even help to improve mood.
In one study volunteers drank a dark chocolate drink with zero, 250 mg, or 500 mg of polyphenols. Those who had the highest dose of polyphenols reported higher levels of calmness and connectedness.
Eating that feels good
Emotional eating is something we all do, women in particular. It makes sense; food tastes good and in turn makes you feel good. But it doesn’t have to be foods that are going to sacrifice your health. Indulging every once in awhile is healthy, and normal. When binging and unhealthy eating becomes habit forming it’s time to consider finding the root of whatever pain you feel that may be encouraging you to turn to food.
Next time you’re feeling a little down, grab one of these amazing foods instead of reaching for that carton of ice cream! Not only will you feel great after eating a healthy snack, you will also find yourself feeling nourished, mind body and soul.
What is your go-to food when you’re feeling down? Did this article make you think twice about what you reach for? We’d love to hear your thoughts!
About the author
Chelsea is a blogger, Certified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist specialising in Healthy Eating for Weight Loss. She is passionate about healthy, natural living and Islamic Medicine. She wishes to inspire other women to live more natural and healthy lives for the sake of Allah (swt).