10 Foods Scientifically Proven to Boost Your MoodArticle posted in: Diet & Nutrition
Sure, hunger can affect mood. And yes: Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables consistently throughout the day (even if we’re not hungry) can improve mood and energy levels because they prevent blood sugar from rising and falling rapidly, according to Mind. But did you know there are specific happy foods that can boost your mood and can actually reduce the symptoms and effects of chemical imbalances in the brain and body?
Here are 10 of our favorite happy foods that can boost your mood:
This fiber-rich, nutritious happy food is especially high in iron. If you’re not getting sufficient iron in your diet, you’re prone to anemia, which according to The Association of UK Dietitians means the body doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. The symptoms of iron deficiency are similar to depression: Weakness, exhaustion, irritability and brain fog, according to Mayo Clinic. To get the most out of every bowl of oatmeal you eat and boost your mood, make it with milk and top it with fresh berries. Also try adding oats to healthy muffins, shakes or whole-grain breads.
2. Sunflower Seeds
Boost your mood with just one cup of dry-roasted sunflower seeds, which contains 512 grams of magnesium, an important vitamin that can help keep your bones and cardiovascular system healthy. Magnesium has also been studied for its role in reducing anxiety, stress and depression. In fact, many different types of depression have been observed in patients suffering from magnesium deficiencies, according to a 2013 Pharmacological Report. On the new South Beach Diet, three tablespoons of sunflower seeds equals one Healthy Fat. Eat shrimp, spinach and black beans for even more magnesium.
Protein. Vitamins. Minerals. Eggs are inexpensive super foods and contribute to strong muscles, brain health, energy production, a healthy immune system and more. Thanks to a triad of B vitamins, eggs can prevent you from feeling tired, depressed or irritable. Despite the fact that the yolks contain fat and some cholesterol, the health benefits (including tryptophan and tyrosine, choline, and biotin) far outweigh the negatives and eggs should be eaten without pause. One whole egg or two egg whites equal one Protein on the new South Beach Diet.
4. Dark Chocolate
That’s right. You can have dark chocolate. A 2014 study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology shows cocoa flavanols can help boost mood and sustain clear thinking during periods of intense studying or concentration. Additionally, dark chocolate may improve vascular health by increasing blood flow and decreasing inflammation. The darker the chocolate the better, as that usually means less sugar. Seek out chocolate with 50 percent cocoa content or more. And stick to one-ounce servings, being sure to account for the calories, fat and carbs.
Heard of tryptophan? It’s often touted for its sleep-inducing benefits (especially after eating that Thanksgiving turkey) but is not often recognized for its ability to stabilize mood. However, those who eat happy foods high in tryptophan, like cheese, milk and eggs, are less likely to suffer from depression or anxiety, according to Healthline. Plus, when you get a good night’s sleep, you’re more likely to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to start a new day. Cheese is a Healthy Fat on the new South Beach Diet.
Without a diet rich in folate—especially if you’re older—you’re more likely to feel depressed and less likely to respond to antidepressant treatments, according to the National Institutes of Health. Spinach is high in folate and supplies 33 percent of your daily recommended value in just one ½ cup serving. (Plus, it’s tastier than liver, which serves up a whopping 215 mcg per serving.) Mix spinach into your morning smoothie and you’ll get a healthy dose of folate, potassium, iron, and calcium. Spinach is an unlimited food on the South Beach Diet. Eat up!
7. Brazil Nuts
Like folate, selenium seems to improve mood and cognition and reduce risk of depression, especially among pregnant women, older people and those with Alzheimer’s, according to the National Institutes of Health. When the body is low in selenium, the brain is the last place that selenium levels drop, suggesting the nutrient is vital to daily function. According to Psychology Today, Brazil nuts are by far the best source of selenium, containing 544 mcg per serving (777 percent of your daily recommended value). The only food that comes close to selenium is tuna, which contains 92 mcg per serving. Stick to six Brazil nuts for a South-Beach serving and count them as one Healthy Fat.
Salmon is one of the healthiest foods on the planet and has a lots of the nutrients mentioned throughout this article (magnesium, selenium and B-vitamins). Plus, one serving of salmon offers 4,023 mg of omega-3 fatty acids, which seem to lower our risk for diseases like heart disease, dementia and depression, according to NPR. Omega-3s also seem to regulate mood by quieting down the body’s response to inflammation, helping it bounce back more quickly after sickness or stress, according to Healthline. If you can’t have or just don’t care for fish, seek out flaxseed and/or chia seeds.
When people take probiotics, their anxiety levels, stress perception and mental outlooks also improve, according to Harvard Health. Almost 95 percent of the body’s serotonin (which regulates sleep, appetite and mood) is produced in the gut, which is lined with a hundred million nerve cells. Therefore, researchers are beginning to believe that the digestive system doesn’t just digest food; it also guides our emotions. Fermented foods like pickles are natural probiotics and are terrific for digestive health because they contain “good” bacteria that provide a barrier against toxins and “bad” bacteria (and inflammation). As long as they’re sugar-free, pickles are a free food on the South Beach Diet and an easy (and delicious) way to boost your mood. Eat up!
Even mild dehydration can alter a person’s mood, energy level and ability to think clearly, according to a February 2012 study published in the Journal of Nutrition. At 95 percent water, celery offers close to a half cup of water in a one-cup serving, which can keep your hydrated and boost your mood. There are only 16 calories per serving and celery contains vitamin K and potassium, which can support brain health as well as prevent heart disease, osteoporosis and certain types of cancer. Celery makes a great dipper—serve with salsa, guacamole, peanut butter or hummus.
Check out these 12 delicious comfort foods from the South Beach Diet! >