We all know that the foods we eat have an effect on our physical health, but did you know they also have an effect on our emotional well-being? Research suggests that certain foods can help to reduce stress, ease anxiety and fight depression. Let’s take a look at 10 foods that can help elevate your mood naturally.
Good news! There’s science to back up the idea that chocolate makes you happy. It turns out it’s more than just the delicious flavor that is responsible. Experts believe the antioxidants in dark chocolate can help to reduce stress hormones like cortisol. (Excuse me for a minute while I savor a few bites of chocolate!)
Apples are great, but a banana a day helps keep depression away! Bananas have high levels of mood boosting magnesium and vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 helps your body make serotonin and dopamine which help to regulate mood and help you to feel calm, relaxed and happy.
We know the capsaicin in chili peppers is responsible for making peppers spicy, but did you know it can also cause a rush of endorphins and provide a euphoric effect? No wonder so many people are obsessed with spicy food. So pour on the hot sauce next time you’re down in the dumps.
We’ve discussed some of the health benefits of turmeric before, but it can also be used to help elevate your mood. The curcumin in turmeric is thought to help fight depression because it increases your feel-good serotonin and dopamine levels. Turmeric is also high in antioxidants that can help fight depression. Curry, anyone?
The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish like salmon and sardines can increase your serotonin and dopamine levels, which are both important “feel-good hormones” for all around well-being. If you don’t like fish, you can take a fish oil supplement instead.
Got the blues? Eat some blueberries. Dark berries like blueberries and blackberries get their dark color from a pigment call anthocyanin. These antioxidants help your brain to produce dopamine. Berries also contain folate which contributes to production of serotonin; serotonin can also fight off depression and improve your mood.
Snacking on a high-protein snack can raise the dopamine and norepinephrine levels in your brain while the calcium in Greek yogurt alerts your brain to release the feel-good chemicals. Not getting enough calcium can contribute to depression, anxiety and irritability.
Tomatoes are high in lycopene which gives them their vibrant color. This extremely potent antioxidant helps ward off inflammation that causes depression and reduces oxidative stress, or damage to healthy brain cells. One study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that people who ate tomatoes two to six times a week were 46 percent less likely to suffer the blues than people who eat tomatoes less frequently.
Asparagus contains high levels of tryptophan. We’ve all heard rumors about how tryptophan can make you sleepy after a big Thanksgiving dinner. Turns out it is the key ingredient in making serotonin, which as we know, promotes feelings of calm, relaxation and sleepiness. Without tryptophan your body will not produce serotonin.
We’re all familiar with the no carb/low carb diet fads but, surprise, carbs are not bad for you. People on low carb diets tend to experience increased depression, anxiety and anger when compared to people who eat a low-fat, high-carb diets with low-fat dairy, whole grains, beans and fruit. Carbs help to increase serotonin production, that feel-good brain chemical we seek. So go ahead and indulge in carbs. They will make you happy! Just be sure you select high fiber carbs and steer clear of the refined and processed ones.
A healthy diet is about more than just your physical health. You are what you eat, and that includes your mental health too. So those are my top 10 foods to eat for a better mood. Do you have any to add to round out this list?