Many of us crave for sweet treats when we’re feeling down. While sweets can temporarily raise serotonin in the short-term, long-term sweets only serve to fuel our low mood by increasing inflammation and blood sugar imbalances, which can both negatively impact mood.
You will be surprised to know that this delicious treat is loaded with the mood-boosting amino acid tryptophan! Plus, it’s a much healthier option than reaching for candy bars or cookies. Here’s why…
Cashews are actually one of the best sources of the amino acid tryptophan among all plant-based foods with 1000-2000 milligrams per 1/4 cup serving. This amino acid is critical for improving the uptake of serotonin in the brain and acts as a direct precursor to the anti-depressant hormone itself. Cashews are a tiny package of iron, magnesium, Vitamin B6, protein, important amino acids, and even omega 3 fats. All of these nutrients directly ward off mild depression and anxiety naturally.
Pumpkin seeds are also loaded with high levels of tryptophan. This amino acid is essential for the production of serotonin, which in turn gets converted into melatonin. This hormone plays a vital role in regulation of behaviour along with exerting positive effects on sleep, mood, appetite and pain. So, if you want a good night’s rest, which can often be difficult for people with depression, then eat a handful of pumpkin seeds before bed along with a small fruit. They also contain an amino acid cucurbitin, which acts as an antibacterial agent eliminating intestinal worms from the digestive system. Supporting a healthy gut is crucial for supporting a healthy mood. Link to gut and mental health article.
Greek yoghurt contains lactobacillus, which is important for gut health but has also been shown to support healthy mood. Researchers have discovered a specific mechanism for how the lactobacillus bacteria affect mood, providing a direct link between the health of the gut microbiome and mental health. One study found that the amount of lactobacillus in the gut affects the level of a metabolite in the blood – called kynurenine – which has been shown to drive depression. When lactobacillus was diminished in the gut, the levels of kynurenine went up, and depression symptoms set in (1).
Berries, including cranberries, pack a wide range of antioxidants and phenolic compounds, which play a key role in combatting oxidative stress—an imbalance of harmful compounds known as free radicals in your body (2). They’re particularly high in anthocyanins, a pigment that gives certain berries their red-purple-blue colours. One study associated a diet rich in anthocyanins with a 39% lower risk of depression symptoms (3).
So, in only 5 minutes of prep – you can have a mood-boosting, sweet-treat to help keep cravings at bay while supporting your mood.
Coconut Yoghurt Clusters
- 1 cup Coconut Yoghurt
- ¼ cup Almonds
- ¼ cup Walnuts
- ¼ cup Cashews
- ¼ cup Coconut Flakes
- ¼ cup Dried Cranberries unsweetened
- Line a muffin tin with silicone liners or prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
- In a medium bowl, add all ingredients and stir well to combine.
- Divide the mixture evenly among the muffin liners or scoop the mixture onto the lined baking sheet, forming clusters of about 2 to 2.5 inches.
- Freeze for at least 2 hours to allow to harden before serving. Enjoy!