A Mood-Boosting Nut & Seed Mix Snack, From A Nutritional Psychiatrist
It's common knowledge that food has the power to help your body to feel better, but did you know this can extend to your mood as well? Eating the right combination of ingredients, particularly nuts and seeds, has the potential to enhance your mood and sharpen your mind, making them the perfect nutrient-dense and filling snacks to reach for when you need a little pick-me-up.
My strategic nut, seed, and spice combination.
Many nuts contain excellent brain-supporting healthy fats, but certain variations also contain nutrients and compounds that can help improve mood. For instance, Brazil nuts are rich in selenium1, a well-researched nutrient that can offer a significant mood-improving effect. Low levels of this antioxidant within the body have been linked to depressive symptoms2, so snacking on this nut may help you feel a little better.
Another great option is pumpkin seeds, which contain zinc3 and iron—two nutrients shown to support healthy serotonin levels. What's more, they've been found to promote dopamine availability in the brain4. This can elevate your mood and even help with focus, so if you're falling into that midday slump, pumpkin seeds can be a great snack to reach for.
The spices you use in a nut and seed mix can also have a significant impact on your brain function. Turmeric is one of the best mood-boosting spices, and it's likely already in your kitchen. Just remember to combine it with black pepper, which allows its anti-inflammatory compound curcumin to become more bioavailable, therefore increasing the benefits it can have on your body and mind.
Cayenne pepper is also a great spice to include within your mixture as it contains brain-nourishing capsaicin, a compound that may also be useful in elevating energy levels.
Looking to try your new favorite midday snack with mood-boosting abilities? Check out the video above or the full recipe below.
Uma's Mood-Supporting Nut & Seed Mix
Makes 8 servings
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- 1½ cups pumpkin seeds
- 1 cup Brazil nuts
- Preheat the oven to 300°F and line a half-sheet baking pan with parchment paper.
- Pour pumpkin seeds and Brazil nuts into a medium bowl. Mix in the turmeric, black pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt, and avocado oil.
- Spread the seeds and nuts in a single layer on the lined baking pan.
- Roast 10 to 20 minutes, until you can smell the aroma of the nuts. Cool and serve.
- Store in an airtight glass jar at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
Uma Naidoo, M.D. is a nutritional psychiatrist, professional chef, nutrition specialist, and author of This Is Your Brain on Food (An Indispensible Guide to the Surprising Foods that Fight Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, OCD, ADHD, and More). She is currently the Founder and Director of Nutritional and Lifestyle Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), the first US clinic of its kind where she consults on nutritional interventions for the psychiatrically and medically ill. Naidoo is also a culinary instructor at The Cambridge School of Culinary Arts. She writes for Harvard Health and Psychology Today and has just completed a unique video cooking series for the MGH Academy, which teaches nutritional psychiatry using culinary techniques in the kitchen.