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Don't wait until Christmas to start nibbling on the festive nut selections that have started appearing in supermarkets as they are some of the best foods around for health and mood.
Just one Brazil nut contains enough selenium (0.2mg) to cover one a third of daily requirements. Selenium is a trace mineral linked to improved mood and reduced anxiety. It’s also an important one for pregnant women since studies have shown it has a strong role to play in helping to reduce the likelihood of post-natal depression.
But it’s not only women who can benefit from the mood-boosting benefits of selenium – everyone can - especially those aged 50 plus. That’s because it helps our brains stay on the ball. A nine year-long study of Alzheimer’s patients showed cognitive abilities decreased in line with falling selenium intake.
It’s important for us to keep topping up our levels of selenium since the incidence of the mineral in UK soil levels (and Scotland in particular) has dropped considerably in the past few decades – to the extent that researchers have even suggested putting it in fertilizer.
Selenium is also a vital component of many other mood affecting processes in the body. It is needed to keep our master antioxidant – glutathione peroxidase – functioning as it should. Together this master pairing prevents polyunsaturated acids in our cell membranes becoming oxidized, which essentially means going off. Selenium’s pairing with iodine, meanwhile, is responsible for thyroid hormone production – an under or over deficiency of which can result in altered mood states, especially high anxiety and tearfulness.
So, one of the best things you can do for your mental state, and health in general, is get nibbling on those seasonal nuts now!