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How does food affect mood? (Depression - part 2)

Wednesday October 18, 2017
How does food affect mood? (Depression - part 2)

Part 2 of our blog on depression explores the science between food and mood. 


When considering food and mood, the key areas to address are sugar, fats, hydration and food supplements.

1. Eat less processed carbs, choose slow-burn wholefoods instead to avoid the highs and lows of unbalanced blood sugars.


2. Omega-3 essential fatty acids, from fatty fish, fish oil supplements, seeds or algae supplements all help with mood and brain health.


3. Cut back on caffeine and alcohol and increase your intake of water.


4. Consider adding the spice saffron to your diet, as this precious ingredient has some interesting science behind its use in the treatment of mild to moderate depression. Saffron, which comes from the stigmas of the delicate Crocus sativus flower, has a long history in traditional healing and as a culinary spice.

In modern times, the health properties of saffron have attracted considerable scientific interest. Chief among them are studies on its uplifting and antidepressant activity, and research into enhancing cognitive ability. 

There have been several clinical trials that have observed a significant improvement in patients with mild to moderate depression, when supplementing with extracts of saffron. Studies have revealed that saffron can be just as effective as some commonly prescribed anti-depressants, but significantly better tolerated and without any usual side effects[i].

Crocus sativus is native to Southwest Asia, but the most-prized saffron is cultivated in Iran. The flowers usually produce three stigmas which are gently hand-harvested in October, farm workers then carefully separate these rust red strands from the petals. It is this labour-intensive harvest that is responsible for its costly reputation. Indeed, weight-for-weight, saffron is more expensive than gold. Interestingly though, the recommended intake as a food supplement is a purse-friendly 30mg daily.


Saffron has been endorsed by numerous experts including Medicinal Chef, nutritionist and author Dale Pinnock, said: “We all know saffron from Spanish cookery, but there’s some really interesting research published over the last few years that shows when taken in supplemental form, as a concentrated extract of about 30mg a day, there could be interesting influences on depression - and it has been compared with well-known herbs like St John’s Wort.”


Other useful food supplements include L-theanine, lemon balm, b vitamins and vitamin D, for more information visit your local specialist health food store.


The dichotomy of western living with extreme wealth and comfort, but also stress, fear and anxiety, juxtaposed with the intimate knowledge of macro dangers – world poverty, cruelty, war, climate change and more, unsurprisingly creates an environment for depression on a global scale. 
Learning techniques and lifestyle practices to reduce the tendency to depression, can help lift mood for a lifetime.

Saffron is the Viridian Ingredient of the Year 2018. After reviewing a vast array of nutrition and herbal research, and speaking with leading influencers, Viridian Nutrition, the ethical vitamin company with an organic heart, has duly recognised saffron, in further anticipation of its positive influence on health.

To read more click here.


 [i] Akhondzadeh S, Fallah-Pour H, Afkham K, et al. Comparison of Crocus sativus L. and imipramine in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: a pilot double blind randomized trial. BMC Complement Altern Med 2004;4:12.

Related articles:

Saffron - why it's a valuable ancient spice


TAGS: Nutrition News and Viewssaffron, depression


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