Hey there, nice to see you – it’s been a while!
A lot has happened since my last post, but the most exciting event had to be my Uni graduation (round 2!). I officially received my Masters of Science in Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, and it sure feels good to add some more letters to the end of my name! It was a lovely day spent with family and friends, and the celebration was bittersweet – I’ll definitely miss the student life, but I look forward to the new adventures ahead!
Cheers to good friends – it’s been a total hoot and a half!
Speaking of new adventures and fun things, I was stoked to connect with my pal and former roomie, Katie McLean, from Anxiousandalive.com, and have the opportunity to collaborate with her on a little mental health project. Katie asked me to write a blog post about her favourite go-to salad, and highlight why the ingredients she chose make her feel so good, both physically and mentally. Did you know that mental health and physical health go hand-in-hand? According to the World Health Organization, “there is no health without mental health” (WHO, 2010). It’s important to not only feed your body the right stuff, but also to consider the impacts your food choices may have on your mental health. By making mindful dietary choices, you’ll be able to enhance your performance, increase your concentration, and keep stress at bay.
After looking at the ingredients, it turns out that Katie was spot-on when it comes to eating right for mind and body – her salad is not only darn delicious, but also provides you with the right nutrients to feed your brain while doing your body good.
Katie’s quick and simple mixed salad is guaranteed to tickle your taste buds and keep your brain happy – here’s why:
Katie’s Super Smart, “Feel-Good” Salad:
- Spinach: Spinach is a great choice when it comes to a base for salads. This leafy green vegetable is packed with iron, which keeps your blood healthy by helping form haemoglobin in red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout the body. Make sure to pair it with vitamin-C -rich foods for proper absorption. Low levels of iron can make you feel sluggish, tired, and irritable. Spinach is often my greens of choice!
- Quinoa: Quinoa has become a nutritious staple for many people. If you’re looking for a complete protein that is suitable for vegetarians and vegans, this seed is for you. The protein will keep you feeling satiated for longer periods of time, and will keep you from having that after-lunch slump because it won’t cause spike your blood sugar, thanks to its’ low glycemic index. The antioxidant properties help increase the nutritional quality as well. A recent meta-analysis found oxidative stress in the brain to be higher in depressed individuals when compared to control subjects, so getting that daily dose is definitely a good idea for everyone!
- Strawberries: Who doesn’t love strawberries?! These little vitamin-packed wonders taste so sweet, and are once again, full of goodness. The vitamin-C in strawberries keeps your immune system healthy and functioning, and can aid in protecting you from chronic disease – a healthy body helps create a healthy mind!
- Avocado: I’m a huge fan of avocados (Can you tell from my chocolate-avocado cake obsession!? https://avocadoearth.wordpress.com/2014/07/09/cocoa-crazy/). They’re so versatile, fun to eat, and contain monounsaturated fats, which are known to be beneficial for the brain and heart. By decreasing bad LDL-cholesterol and increasing the good HDL-cholesterol, your blood vessels will stay healthy and your brain will get all the nutrients it needs. Healthy blood flow means a healthy brain, and regular consumption of Omega-3s has been suggested to help keep moods stable, as well as reduce the risk of developing dementia in the later stages of life.
- Olive oil: Making your own oil and vinegar dressing helps you keep your calories in check, and lets you know exactly what’s added to your salad. Choosing olive oil is a good move – as evidenced by the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, pairing healthy fats, such as olive oil, with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables can improve cognitive function and keep your brain and heart healthy. Drizzle a little on your salad or supplement it into your diet to reap all the benefits.
- Walnuts: For those looking to spice up their salad even more, why not throw in a handful of walnuts? These tree-nuts contain healthy fats once again, and can decrease your bad LDL-cholesterol. A recent study suggests that regular tree nut consumption is associated with a lower BMI and systolic blood pressure, when compared to no consumption. More studies are required to validate these findings, but so far, so good for walnuts!
- Goat Cheese: A great source of protein and a suitable alternative for those suffering from lactose intolerance. Goat Cheese also contains Vitamin D, which works alongside calcium to build and maintain strong bones, protects against chronic disease, and has been suggested to improve mental health. Bonus: slow-releasing protein can help you maintain your focus by providing lasting energy for your body and can help keep you alert after lunch.
Throw these ingredients together and dig in for a healthier mind and body! Enjoy!
Check out Katie at http://www.anxiousandalive.com, or on her instagram @anxiousandalive 🙂
Alvarez-Jubete, L., Wijngaard, H., Arendt, E. K., & Gallagher, E. (2010). Polyphenol composition and in vitro antioxidant activity of amaranth, quinoa buckwheat and wheat as affected by sprouting and baking. Food chemistry, 119(2), 770-778.
Berr, C., Portet, F., Carriere, I., Akbaraly, T. N., Feart, C., Gourlet, V., … & Ritchie, K. (2009). Olive oil and cognition: results from the three-city study. Dementia and geriatric cognitive disorders, 28(4), 357-364.
Bourre, J. M. (2004). Roles of unsaturated fatty acids (especially omega-3 fatty acids) in the brain at various ages and during ageing. J Nutr Health Aging, 8(3).
Buckland, G., & Gonzalez, C. A. (2015). The role of olive oil in disease prevention: A focus on the recent epidemiological evidence from cohort studies and dietary intervention trials. British Journal of Nutrition, 113(S2), S94-S101.
Faine, L. A., Rodrigues, H. G., Galhardi, C. M., Ebaid, G. M., Diniz, Y. S., Padovani, C. R., & Novelli, E. L. (2006). Effects of olive oil and its minor constituents on serum lipids, oxidative stress, and energy metabolism in cardiac muscle. Canadian journal of physiology and pharmacology, 84(2), 239-245.
Lai, J. S., Hiles, S., Bisquera, A., Hure, A. J., McEvoy, M., & Attia, J. (2014). A systematic review and meta-analysis of dietary patterns and depression in community-dwelling adults. The American journal of clinical nutrition, ajcn-069880.
Laus, M. N., Gagliardi, A., Soccio, M., Flagella, Z., & Pastore, D. (2012). Antioxidant activity of free and bound compounds in quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.) seeds in comparison with durum wheat and emmer. Journal of food science, 77(11), C1150-C1155.
Liu, T., Zhong, S., Liao, X., Chen, J., He, T., Lai, S., & Jia, Y. (2015). A Meta-Analysis of Oxidative Stress Markers in Depression. PloS one, 10(10), e0138904.
Mental health: Strengthening our response. (2014, August 1). Retrieved October 26, 2015, from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs220/en/