5 Good Mood Mediterranean Dishes

spinach pie spanakopitaResearchers agree that there is a very strong link between food and mood. In the past few years we have seen several studies showing that following a Mediterranean diet can reduce symptoms of depression. And if you are following a Mediterranean style diet, you are less likely to develop depressive symptoms in the first place.

Certain nutrients are associated with better mood including omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, zinc, probiotics and others. In addition, we know that processed foods and junk food is associated with negative moods. While a good diet will not magically transform you, the research does show that it plays an important role in your mood and how we react to stress.

Here are 5 Mediterranean dishes that incorporate those nutrients for better psychological health.

1. Baked Egg with Spinach and Feta

eggs with spinach

This is an excellent meal for all times of the day and full of nutrients associated with good mood. While the egg  white provides protein, the egg yolk is a source of vitamin D and B12. Most people get less than the recommended amount of vitamin D which has been associated with prevention of depression. B12, is a vitamin that can affect mood as well as brain function. Adding the spinach provides an extra dose of antioxidants. Get the recipe here

2. Yogurt with Walnuts

Greek yogurt is a great source of probiotics. Probiotics are bacteria that are known to have health benefits. Studies have shown that probiotics may also improve depressive symptoms. By adding walnuts to your creamy, probiotic yogurt you get another benefit: omega-3 fatty acids which have been associated with lessening the symptoms of depression. In addition, they are a source of polyphenols (antioxidants), folate and vitamin E, all good for your heart.

3. Greek Lentil Soup

Greek lentil soup

This easy to make soup/stew not only is comforting but will make you feel better thanks to the zinc it contains. One large bowl will provide 40% of your daily needs. Zinc appears to be involved in our response to stress. It has been found that individuals with depression have low levels of zinc in their blood. Lentils are a great way to get zinc because you also get plenty of fiber and protein. Get the recipe here

4. Roasted Sardines

roasted sardines

Fatty fish is the quintessential good mood food, and that’s because it is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Unfortunately most of us just don’t get enough of this nutrient. Omega-3 fatty acids appear to affect dopamine and serotonin, neurotransmitters that play a role in mood. These fatty acids also reduce inflammation which may affect mood disorders. Get the recipe here

5. Spinach Pie or Greens Pie


A common snack in Greece, pies are a great way to include greens. Leafy greens are a great source of antioxidants and fiber and are also a plant source of omega-3 fatty acids, all which can contribute to a better mood. Researchers had found that consumption of greens could reduce the risk of depression. Get the recipe here


The SMILES (Supporting the Modification of lifestyle in Lowered Emotional States) trial 

A Mediterranean-style dietary intervention supplemented with fish oil improves diet quality and mental health in people with depression: A randomized controlled trial (HELFIMED)


Good Mood Mediterranean Foods


Photos by Elena Paravantes © All Rights Reserved

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  1. Barbara Hadjiapostolou says:

    I thoroughly enjoy reading your blogs and await your latest news with anticipation. When I visited Greece in 2005 we visited family members in the village of Livathia (hope I spelt it correctly) and they were completely vegetarian, only enjoyed eggs. The lady of the house made a divine salad using steamed ‘rathikia’ again spelling. What is the real name of these? I am not sure if these would be available in South Africa but one can always try. Stay well and kind regards

    1. It made me think about how I want to live my life THANK YOU

  2. thank you for all of these, I love all of these flavors, the spinach pie is one of my favorites, have only had it in a restaurant so thank you for the recipe, I wouldn’t otherwise know where to begin!

  3. I like the idea of the baked egg and spinach dish, thanks for sharing. I also like sardines but my husband can’t stand the taste or smell of them cooking unfortunately, lol.