We usually fail to realize that food we eat has a tremendous effect on our overall mood, health and well-being. What do you do when feeling stressed or feeling down? Head straight to the refrigerator or snack cupboard to consume everything in sight? You’re not alone.
According to research by Harvard Health Publications, stress causes the adrenal glands to release cortisol – a hormone that increases appetite and may increase the motivation to eat.
Start to stock your kitchen with healthier options that will not only perk up your mood but also help maintain your health overall.
15 Mood-Boosting Foods:
- Leafy Greens (spinach, kale, arugula, Swiss chard): full of mood-boosting vitamins and minerals such as magnesium and folate (a water-soluble B vitamin). Foods with significant amounts of folate have been shown to increase serotonin levels, a mood-enhancing hormone whose levels are often too low in sufferers of anxiety or depression.
- Avocado: healthy fats found in foods such as avocado are essential for healthy cognitive functioning and may also help diminish symptoms of depression and anxiety. They are also wonderful sources of folate, tryptophan and omega-3, all of which are now believed to help improve feelings of well-being, reduce inflammation, and improve healthy brain function.
- Dark Chocolate: Simply put, chocolate makes you feel good! Packed with antioxidants, tryptophan, magnesium, and high levels of polyphenols (especially flavonoids), dark chocolate (consisting of at least 70% cacao) has been linked to improved blood flow, less depressive feelings, and increased serotonin production.
- Bananas: are natural beta-blockers and can gradually reduce anxiety by preventing adrenaline from fusing with beta receptors. Also rich in magnesium and the amino acid tyrosine, both of which produce dopamine, the “feel good” hormone responsible for monitoring your brain’s reward and pleasure centers. This, in turn, helps decrease overall stress levels and improve your mood.
- Fermented Foods: (kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut, kefir) can help to ease digestion issues, soothe gut inflammation and provide the gut with healthy amounts of bacteria required to keep your gut and therefore your mood, positive and happy. Good gut health is vital for managing symptoms of anxiety or depression.
- Blueberries (and other berries): Antioxidant-packed berries such as blueberries can help by providing a wonderful source of polyphenols, a natural anti-inflammatory that may help your body to recover from the daily stresses in life. These berries are also rich in vitamin C, which aids in repairing and protecting your cells when the body is under stress.
- Legumes: The balance of fiber, protein and healthy carbs found in legumes work to keep your blood sugar levels stable, preventing dreaded spikes that can negatively affect your mood (AKA ‘hangry’).
- Nuts: full of vitamin E and free-radical fighting antioxidants such as selenium, which has been shown to aid in treating anxiety. Foods rich in selenium can help reduce cell damage and inflammation in the body often brought on by mood disorders.
- Sweet Potato: have the antioxidant carotenoid, responsible for giving sweet potatoes their vibrant color; is also linked to being a powerful mood enhancer. Sweet potatoes are also an incredible source of fiber, as well as vitamin C, potassium, manganese, magnesium, and many depression-fighting B vitamins such as B6.
- Olive Oil: Olive oil is also packed full of brain-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, an amino acid with potent anti-inflammatory abilities, as well as phytonutrients and antioxidants such as flavonoids, phenols, and anthocyanidins.
- Salmon: (and other fatty fish such as tuna) rich in omega-3, a fatty acid with strong ties to mental health and cognitive functioning, salmon provides two essential fatty acids (EPA and DHA) vital for reducing inflammation in the brain, regulating neurotransmitters and hormones, and promoting healthy brain function.
- Yogurt: Similarly to other fermented products, probiotic yogurts can have a large impact on the state of your mental health due to the close connection between your gut and brain.
- Asparagus: healthy source of fiber, iron, folate, copper, protein, calcium, and antioxidants such as anthocyanins. A rich source of the amino acid tryptophan, asparagus contains a wide variety of nutrients associated with general happiness and a calm state of mind.
- Turmeric: a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant with countless benefits for the mind and body. Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, has been used for thousands of years as a medical herb and spice, and has been said to possess amazing abilities to delay or even reverse many brain-related illnesses.
- Eggs: high in vitamin D and omega-3, eggs provide a complete source of protein, as well as all of the essential amino acids needed for optimal mental health. Eggs also contain the amino acid tryptophan which as mentioned earlier helps to increase the production of the “feel good” chemical serotonin. Serotonin-stimulating foods are always key when it comes to battling anxiety and depression due to its essential role in regulating behaviour, mood, memory, and sleep.
The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.