Good Mood Food: Seven Foods To Boost Mental Health

Top tips from author donating all cookbook proceeds to The Black Dog Institute

A healthy, balanced diet can go a long way to improving your mental and physical well-being, but sadly it’s not a cure-all for the millions of Australians suffering from mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. That’s why Aussie foodie, personal trainer, and mental health advocate, Judy Phillips has re-released her book, Good Life Great Food: Recipes for Loving and Sharing, filled with great mood-boosting meals to share with loved ones, with ALL proceeds going to The Black Dog Institute.

The Black Dog Institute is a vital organisation for the thousands of Australians and their loved ones tackling mental health issues every day. One in five Australians aged 16 to 85 years experience a mental illness in any year.

“Mental illness is best handled with the support of family, friends, and professionals, but there are also small steps individuals can take to encourage a happy, healthy mind, and one of those is eating mood-boosting foods and enjoying them in good company,” says Judy. “Staying true to my passion for mental health, many of my recipes are based on fresh, healthy, mood boosting, whole-food ingredients such as lean meats, fish, eggs, dairy and green leafy vegetables, all of which are bursting with vitamins, minerals and amino acids that are known to foster a healthy mind[1].”

Here is a list of seven mood-boosting foods and great recipes from Judy’s book so you can incorporate them into your daily dining:

1. Yoghurt 

Yoghurt and other fermented foods contain loads of healthy bacteria, (probiotics) essential in maintaining a healthy gut. One recent study reduced the anxiety levels in mice just by giving them yoghurt bacteria2 “There is growing literature showing a strong correlation between gut health and mental well-being,” says Judy, who suggests trying her Berry Yoghurt Trifle.

2. Avocados 

Avocados have been getting a bad write-up lately thanks to their hefty price tag, but these buttery delights are rich in monounsaturated fats which help blood flow to the brain, says Judy, who recommends her Avocado, tomatoes, cucumber and bread salad.

3. Beetroot 

Judy says this red ripper is hard to ‘beet’! “Like broccoli, beetroot is high in folic acid as well as fibre, manganese and potassium.” She suggests doubling up the goodness by also including brain-boosting walnuts with her Roast beetroot and walnut salad.

4. Apples 

An apple a day…It might not keep the doctor away but according to researchers at Cornell University the chemicals found in apples and their skins can help protect the delicate neurons in your brain. “Sometimes it’s also nice to share a really delicious warm dessert with friends. The smell alone will brighten up your day!” Judy says. Throw in a few more feel-good walnuts then put an Apple stuffed with walnuts and dates (pictured right) into your oven.

5. Salmon 

Omega-3 fatty acids, found in salmon, ocean trout, seaweed and walnuts, are essential for healthy brain function. And important feel-good chemicals are made in healthy, happy brains. Try Judy’s Salmon ceviche salad.

6. Broccolini 

It’s no surprise that greens are good for you, but broccoli and broccolini are among the high achievers thanks to their folic acid and other nutrients important for mood regulation, energy and quality sleep. Judy recommends trying her Broccolini and Beans with Tahini Tamari Sauce.

7. Chicken/eggs 

“Chicken or the egg? It doesn’t matter which one comes first… just make sure you eat them!” Judy says. “Chicken, eggs, turkey and fish are all good proteins that provide the building blocks for a healthy nervous system.” Make your mind and taste buds happy with a Chicken and olive tagine.

Recipes for all dishes mentioned above are detailed in Life Great Food: Recipes for Loving and Sharing (RRP $35), which can be purchased at selected bookstores or online at

About the Author

Judy Phillips is a home cook, mother of five and fitness fanatic. In 2012, at the urging of family and friends, Judy started cooking classes from her kitchen in Sydney to share her decade’s worth of tips and tricks to create easy, seasonal, healthy and delicious meals. Her debut cookbook Good Life Great Food: Recipes for Loving and Sharing is the result of a lifetime of interest in eating well, enjoying the food nature has to offer and remaining healthy. Judy has degrees in commerce and law and is a certified personal trainer. Her kitchen is the hub of her busy household.


1. T. S. Sathyanarayana Rao, M. R. Asha,1 B. N. Ramesh,2 and K. S. Jagannatha Rao. Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses. Available from: 

2. J. A Bravo et al. Ingestion of Lactobacillus strain regulates emotional behavior and central GABA receptor expression in a mouse via the vagus nerve. Available from:  

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