Growing Serotonin: Mood Boosting Benefits of Gardening, And A Recipe

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A survey published in a recent publication of Gardeners World magazine indicated that 80 percent of gardeners consider themselves to be satisfied with their lives.

For gardeners who spent more than six hours per week tending their flowers or produce, the satisfaction-with-life number rose to 87 percent.

Only 67 percent of non-gardeners claimed to be satisfied.

Mood Boosting Benefits of Gardening

There seems to be a correlation between sticking your hands in soil, spending time outdoors, and having an elevated sense of well-being. Here are six reasons why:

  1. One huge benefit of gardening is having fresh uncontaminated and unprocessed foods to enjoy raw or use in mouthwatering recipes.
  2. Spending time in the sunshine allows our body to manufacture a healthy amount of vitamin D. People with low levels of vitamin D in their system are at higher risk for depression.
  3. Part of a healthy exercise regimen can include gardening. The bending, lifting, digging and reaching involved helps gardeners stay strong and limber.
  4. Contact with naturally occurring bacteria in the soil triggers our body to release important immune chemicals called cytokines. Cytokines play a role in signaling our brain to produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin.
  5. A research study discovered that the act of picking vegetables or fruits, in the wild or from a garden, triggers our brain to release the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine.
  6. Our bodies absorb negative ions through skin contact with the earth. Negative ions energize us, relieve stress and strengthen our immune systems. Another way to get negative ions is strolling in the grass with bare feet.

If you do not have a yard in which to garden, check out the book The Edible Balcony by Alex Mitchell.

Good Mood Recipe: Lemon-Dijon Quinoa and Asparagus Salad

Whether you pick ingredients for this recipe from your own garden or buy them from a fresh produce market, you will enjoy this refreshing dish packed with mood-boosting benefits.

Ingredients

  • ~ 1 lb. asparagus
  • ~ 1 cup quinoa
  • ~ 1 cup corn
  • ~ 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • ~ 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • ~ 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, for garnish

The recipe’s asparagus lifts serotonin levels because it is packed with vitamin B6; it is also a good source of potassium. The tomatoes contain lycopene, a fat-soluble phytonutrient that protects the brain from pro-inflammatory compounds associated with depression.

Lemon provides a healthy dose of good-mood essential vitamin C. The ingredient quinoa is a high-protein carbohydrate that helps raise serotonin levels and increases the body’s supply of B vitamins, necessary for the production of our neurotransmitters. The walnut garnish provides omega-3s, antioxidants, vitamins E, B6, folate and protein.

Preparation

  1. Rinse and drain the quinoa. Add the quinoa to 2 cups of boiling water salted with 1/2 tsp sea salt. Reduce heat and simmer 15 to 20 minutes. Drain.
  2. After snapping off the tough ends, cut the asparagus into one inch pieces. Put the cut asparagus in a large pot of boiling water and cook for 9 to 12 minutes or until nearly tender. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the cooked quinoa, asparagus, corn, tomatoes, and parsley. Add the dressing and stir gently. Just before serving, add walnuts as a garnish.

Dressing

Whisk together:

  • ~ 1/4 cup water
  • ~ 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • ~ 3 T fresh lemon juice
  • ~ 1.5 T extra virgin olive oil
  • ~ 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ~ black pepper to taste

Sources: Mercola.comand Natural News; Gaim

 
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