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Healthy Eating Blog Series

Food for Your Mood

The foods we eat can have a pretty powerful effect on our mental health. We ask a lot of our brain every day, so it’s important to fuel it properly, and optimise our concentration, memory, learning and of course, mood itself! Check out three delicious brain boosting recipes here

Here are four key areas to focus on to keep your brain healthy:

  • All Hail Omega 3 !

Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for normal brain development and maintenance of brain function throughout life. Oily fish- salmon, mackerel, trout are our main dietary sources of our two important omega-3s, EPA and DHA – our ‘essential fatty acids’, which means that our bodies cannot make them (so we have to get them through food). Our national dietary guidelines recommend a minimum of two servings of oily fatty fish per week. We can also make EPA and DHA from a plant-derived omega 3 called ALA, which you’ll find in foods like walnuts, flaxseeds and chia seeds!

  • Make Way for Wholgrains

Our busy brains need a steady source of nourishing fuel to keep us alert and ready for action. Wholegrains provide a slower, steady release of glucose into the bloodstream compared to white carbohydrates. Wholegrains have been closely linked with improved heart health, optimising the blood flow to your brain, as well as being much higher in dietary fibre, which your gut health will thank you for! There’s a lot of interesting research going on currently looking at how our gut bacteria affect our mental health, so watch this space!‌

  • Five a Day- Everyday

Fresh fruits and vegetables are nutritional powerhouses – full of micronutrients like vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E, our B vitamins, folic acid, and antioxidants, they are amazing sources of nourishment for our brain. Antioxidants help protect against damage to our cells and come from a wide range of fruits and vegetables, such as blueberries and tomatoes. Folic acid can be found in leafy green vegetables, such as spinach, and broccoli is a great source of Vitamin K. Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits like oranges. Try to include two pieces of fruit and 3 portions of vegetables in your daily diet at a minimum – and gold stars for those who hit higher than that!

  • The Simple Pleasures- Coffee and Dark Chocolate

Saving the best for last of course! Coffee contains both caffeine and antioxidants. Caffeine can increase alertness, improve mood, and sharpen concentration, while antioxidants can protect against cell damage as we’ve mentioned above. Aim to enjoy your cuppa before noon to avoid any negative effect on your sleep. Dark chocolate (aim for 70% or above cocoa solids) contains both caffeine and a group of antioxidants called ‘flavanoids.’ Flavanoids have been linked to brain health and also improved blood flow. Happy days for staff and students alike!

Healthy UCD

University College Dublin Belfield Dublin 4 Ireland
E: healthyucd@ucd.ie |