If you’ve been feeling blue, and aren’t sure why, it could be related to your diet.
Research shows that getting the right nutrients over time can improve your mood, help with stress, ease anxiety, and even help fight depression.
Growing research shows that simply making changes in what you eat can significantly boost your mood.
The food-mood connection has been the subject of recent research, with many experts recognizing that certain foods have a powerful effect on mood.
That’s because the nutrients in food are precursors to neurotransmitters.
Different foods help you develop certain levels of those neurotransmitters, which can vastly affect mood.
The secret, then, is knowing which foods have an overall net positive effect on mood.
Sometimes, of course, it’s not all about nutrition.
Sipping a cup of creamy soup on a rainy day can lift your mood, just as sipping a cup of tea in the afternoon can.
You might have a few foods that bring a smile to your face. Perhaps they bring back special memories, or the smell is invigorating.
Some of those foods might even have hidden health benefits that boost your mood, such as the tea I mentioned.
Green tea has been used for centuries by the Chinese and Japanese to promote digestion, regulate blood sugar, and improve mood.
Real leaf tea contains the amino acid L-theanine, which calms the nervous system.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that people who drink at least 5 cups or more of green tea daily experience less psychological distress.
In another study published Phytotherapy, researchers reported the antidepressant effect of L-theanine in mice undergoing a forced swim test and tail suspension test.
You can get L-theanine as a supplement as well, so you can get the mood benefits without the caffeine.
Some people feel healthy and happy from eating a salad topped with other superfoods.
If you’re not one of those people, opt for dark greens in your sauces and smoothies.
You’ll want leady greens in your diet for the mood boosting folate.
Folate deficiency has been linked to depression, because it decreases serotonin levels in the brain.
Eating foods high in this B vitamin can overcome deficiencies, boosting your mood.
There’s a synthetic version called folic acid, but for mood try to get the real thing for whole foods.
Folate is in dark, leafy greens like spinach, but also legumes like lentils or kidney beans.
The brain needs healthy fat to function properly.
So if you’re avoiding fat to lose weight, or your diet is full of only bad fat, your brain isn’t getting what it needs.
That affects mood and causes low mood and depression.
Good fats include avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, and nuts.
Arizona State University researchers found that high intakes of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a form of omega-3 fat found in walnuts, flaxseed and chia seed, can keep you feeling happier.
A salad of dark leafy greens, avocado, walnuts, flaxseed, chia seeds, and an oil based dressing is a superfood for your mood.
Don’t forget to throw a handful of blueberries on your salad for even more mood boosting benefits!
Berries are also delicious in a salad and add a bit of sweetness.
Blueberries in particular have more antioxidants than any other fruit or vegetable, and they offer a heap of brain-boosting benefits.
Thanks to their antioxidants called flavonoids, blueberries regulate mood, improve memory, and protect the brain from aging.
The high level of polyphenols in berries also fight the high levels of inflammation in the body that have been linked to symptoms of depression.
So an afternoon snack of berries, nuts, and cheese will give you a long list of benefits that fight low mood.
Oysters have a reputation as an aphrodisiac, but they do more than help in the bedroom.
They’re zinc, a nutrient that helps ease anxiety.
Zinc improves sleep quality too, and good sleep is essential for stable moods.
If you’re allergic to shellfish or don’t like oysters, don’t worry. You can get zinc from cashews, Brazil nuts, eggs, liver, or beef.
All nuts are packed with important minerals that aid mental health such as selenium, copper, magnesium, manganese, and zinc.
Different nuts also offer different benefits.
Walnuts are one of the richest plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which fights inflammation and feeds the brain. They also help replace B vitamins, which is critical for mood.
Brazil nuts have magnesium, which calms the nerves, along with zinc, which I mentioned in our last tip because it’s an antidepressant element that combats anxiety.
Almonds have manganese and copper, two trace minerals that defuse free radicals produced within the mitochondria, aka the “powerhouse of the cell.” That protects us against disease and provides energy.
Cashews are a true hero of the nut group. Eating two handfuls of cashews is equivalent to taking a prescription dose of Prozac.
Cashews are super high in tryptophan, which increase levels of the happiness-inducing neurotransmitter, serotonin.
For mood care, buy nut mixes and snack on them on a regular basis.
All dairy helps lift your mood and helps with depression. That’s because milk, cheese, and yogurt are rich in calcium, vitamin D, and specific peptides that promote relaxation.
That’s another reason to add cheese to your berry and nut mixes.
However, yogurt is especially beneficial because of its probiotics.
There is a huge amount of new and exciting research coming out about gut health, and how our gut biome affects our weight, health, and mood.
In a 2013 study by UCLA, participants ate yogurt twice daily for a month. They showed lower levels of activity in the areas of the brain associated with pain and emotion.
At the same time, they showed increased activity in areas associated with decision making.
John F. Cryan, Ph.D. of University College Cork in Ireland, has conducted several studies that show that when the microbiome of mice is disrupted, they mimic human anxiety and depression.
Buy unsweetened yogurt and add berries for even more mood boosting power.
So many of us know that a little bit of chocolate can boost your mood.
We’re talking about a small amount, and the darker, the better.
In a 2013 randomized, double-blind study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, researchers found that participants who consumed a dark chocolate drink mix for 30 days had “significantly increased self-rated calmness and contentedness relative to placebo.”
A 2009 study published in the Journal of Proteome Research showed that dark chocolate reduces cortisol and helps normalize stress-related differences in energy metabolism and gut microbial activities.
Dark chocolate contains large amounts of tryptophan, an amino acid that works as a precursor to serotonin, and theobromine, another mood-elevating compound.
Dark chocolate also has one of the highest concentrations in magnesium in a food, so shoot for 70% cocoa.
Baked sweet potato with butter and brown sugar is a childhood favorite for many.
There are many other ways to prepare it, of course, and all offer a boost to your mood.
Sweet potato is rich in Vitamin B6—and low levels of this vitamin have been associated with many symptoms of depression.
It offers a long list of other health benefits too, and it’s full of fiber. So it’ll help your mood and overall health.
These 9 foods can work together to lift your mood when you need a little boost.
Incorporating them into your regular diet will help you stabilize your mood over time.
Plus, these foods are delicious, and eating healthy is a mood booster too!
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