Did you know that there are some foods that can help you when you are feeling under the weather?
The foods you indulge in on a regular basis can have a huge impact on both physical and mental health. Studies even suggest that certain foods have the ability to boost your mood. In other words, when things go wrong, watch your plate. Improving your mental state with the help of several foods is the easiest way to beat your blues.
And you may not even need to go to the grocery store! Chances are, you have most of them in your pantry or refrigerator. Open your kitchen cabinets and take notes! If you have the following foods, you’re halfway there. Continue reading to find out which foods can uplift your spirits in a matter of hours after consuming them.
Psst! Never underestimate the power of food!
Salmon, mackerel, tuna, anchovies, sardines, and herring are the best fish options you could possibly eat. Apart from keeping cancer at bay, combating acne, boosting heart health, and keeping your bones strong, the omega-3s found in fish can also improve your mood.
Wondering how? Well, when consumed, the omega-3 fatty acids can influence the brain’s neurotransmitters responsible for inducing the feeling of happiness. They also minimize inflammation found at the brain level. Studies support the evidence, too.
A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that only 1.5 grams of omega-3s taken daily for a couple of weeks could boost your mood significantly. If you don’t like fish, you can still benefit from the omega-3 properties by taking supplements.
If you’re out of snacking ideas, cashews should be the first thing to pop into your head (or, better said, bowl). Because cashews contain high amounts of zinc, the mineral that plays an essential role in the brain’s health, you should eat them whenever you can.
Numerous studies pointed out that zinc deficiency is often responsible for the development of depression, memory impairments, and even aggression. In general, those who deal with depression have lower zinc levels than healthy people.
Men should aim for 11 mg of zinc per day, while women for about 8 mg. So, considering that one ounce of roasted cashews packs approximately 1.6 mg of zin, cashews are the answer.
No matter how you choose to consume it, a cup of Greek yogurt or a glass of milk, dairy should always be welcomed in your diet, especially when you want to uplift your spirits. Due to the fact that dairy contains high amounts of tryptophan, Greek yogurt, milk, eggs, cheese, and butter are able to boost your mood.
The owner of Dig In Eat Up and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition, Libby Mills, MS, RDN, LDN, FAND, says that tryptophan has the ability to transform itself into serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter that offers you a positive state of mind and a sense of well being.
Plus, dairy products do so much more than just uplift your spirits. They strengthen your bones and muscles, keep your gut happy, and maintain your heart healthy.
If you’re looking for a mood stabilizer, look no further than oatmeal, the perfect breakfast choice. According to Mills, when consuming oatmeal, your blood sugar levels go up, and, as a result, your serotonin levels maximize. And yes, any source of sugar can do that, but it’s not healthy.
Those sugar sources will boost your mood for a couple of hours, but as soon as your blood sugar levels crash again, your mood will be even more damaged. Oatmeal offers a good amount of fiber, too, which will slow down the digestion process of carbohydrates. Meaning that you won’t experience blood sugar spikes after eating oatmeal.
It’s basically a win-win. Boosting your serotonin levels while keeping your blood sugar levels in check.
Whenever you feel down, eat your greens! Besides preventing different types of cancers, boosting heart health, and offering a youthful appearance, green veggies can also combat depression. Veggies are packed with folate (vitamin B-9), and since it appears that depression is linked to low levels of this B vitamin, you should definitely eat your veggies.
Studies point out that people with high folate levels tend to be happier than those who have low levels of this B vitamin. Researchers don’t know exactly what’s the connection between the two, but they believe that a folate deficiency shrinks the production of dopamine, noradrenaline, and serotonin.
Nonetheless, it’s a good idea to eat plenty of green vegetables like spinach, asparagus, edamame, peas, cucumbers, kale, and broccoli.
From keeping blood pressure in check, improving athletic performance, fighting inflammation, and boosting digestive health to preventing different types of cancers, aiding weight loss, and supporting brain health, there’s not a single thing beets can’t do.
But how about uplifting your spirits? According to Mills, because they contain nitric oxide, a compound that boosts your body’s natural ability to carry oxygen, beets offer mental clarity. In other words, depriving your body of the oxygen it needs to function properly can lead to abnormal brain function, often accompanied by depression.
If you prefer beetroot juice instead of beets eaten as a side dish, don’t worry, you’ll get the same results.
A spice could boost your mood, too; it’s called turmeric. It is often used to relieve pain and inflammation, but, as studies suggest, this powerful spice can ease anxiety due to its main compound, curcumin. A recent study published in Brain Research discovered that a small dose of curcumin a day could lower stress levels significantly.
Keeping anxiety and stress at bay could lead you one step closer to a happy life. Besides, turmeric is also known to prevent several types of cancers, lower the risk of developing heart disease, fight age-related conditions like Alzheimer’s, and relieve arthritis symptoms.
What more could you possibly want from a spice?
While fermented foods such as kimchi and sauerkraut are not exactly the most popular side dishes in our country, they should be. They deserve a place on our list of mood-boosting foods, too. Many studies suggest that the live bacteria found in fermented foods, what we know as probiotics, could alleviate depression and anxiety.
On top of that, probiotics found in fermented foods can also improve gut health; and since the gut has a strong connection with the brain, as long as you keep your gut happy, your brain will most likely follow its lead.
Photo by Alexandra Anschiz from Shutterstock
Other instant mood boosters that you probably have on your countertop are citrus fruits. According to Mills, fruits, and veggies high in vitamin C are able to decrease stress and anxiety. Therefore, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, mandarins, bell peppers, tomatoes, and strawberries should be consumed more often.
No matter what vitamin C source you prefer, try to reach your daily intake for vitamin C (75 mg for women and approximately 90 mg for men). Ahh, and it’s best to eat your vitamin C sources raw as boiling or sautéeing can decrease vitamin C content.
Keep it fresh to enjoy the biggest vitamin C punch.
Thankfully, dark chocolate can boost your mood, too. So, whenever you feel a little blue, grab an extra-dark chocolate bar and enjoy it. The cocoa content found in dark chocolate can regulate mood while giving us more energy to finish the day as we want.
High energy levels are often associated with a good state of mind. Physical activity can have the same benefits for you, but it’s easier to eat some dark chocolate, isn’t it?
P.S.: Remember to opt for a dark chocolate bar that has a high cocoa content (at least 70 percent) when grocery shopping.
We all know that green tea has several health benefits to offer when sipped on a regular basis… But did you also know that it can boost your mood? Several studies have found that regular green tea consumption can fight anxiety and depression.
Its mood-boosting effects come from a powerful amino acid called theanine. The author of Vigor: 7 Days to Unlimited Energy, Focus, and Well-Being and nutritional biochemist, Shawn Talbott, Ph.D., says that theanine has an incredible relaxation effect.
So, if you don’t want to eat in order to boost your mood, green tea should work just fine.
Sometimes it is not about what foods are great for you, but rather which ones we should avoid in order to be healthier! Read all about the most damaging foods for the brain here!