Good Mood Food: Munch on These Eight Delicious Tidbits to Feel Happier
Food is connected to many human emotions. For instance, it can be a source of comfort, a reward, or a guilty pleasure.
Scientists have long studied how what we put in our mouths affects our minds. In one extensive 2018 study, UCLA researchers determined that a balanced diet and exercise can improve mental health and reduce the impact of disorders. If food plays such a key role in our frame of mind, what should we eat to feel our best?
Here are eight mood-boosting items to add to your shopping list.
Rich in healthy monounsaturated fats, this fleshy green fruit is linked to reduced anxiety symptoms. Avocados are also high in B vitamins, which are strongly associated with lower stress levels and may help improve mood and focus.
Although coffee often gets a bad rap, research has shown that is packed with health benefits. Coffee beans are brimming with antioxidants that reduce harmful inflammation. Moderate caffeine intake is also associated with decreased anxiety and depression. If you don’t overload it with sugar, go ahead and enjoy a cup or two of joe.
Everyone knows bananas are full of potassium, but you may not know that they also contain tryptophan, a brain chemical that helps regulate mood. Bananas are also a good source of B vitamin folate, which fights mood swings and depressive episodes.
4. Black beans
If you’re feeling blue, add some black beans to your burrito or chili. Magnesium deficiency is linked to anxiety and low energy. Black beans are rich in magnesium and can boost happiness-inducing serotonin levels. They also contain vital nutrients like iron, copper, fiber, zinc, and potassium.
5. Dark Chocolate
We don’t need to tell you that chocolate makes you feel good! Aside from the sugar rush, 2020 research found that cocoa helped improve brain performance in young adults. Studies have also found that dark chocolate intake was associated with a lower risk of depressive symptoms.
Enjoy that chocolate bar; just be sure to choose the darker varieties, which contain more feel-good cocoa.
Eating just about any kind of fruit will likely give you a healthy boost, but blueberries take the cake. Their dark skins are a rich source of polyphenols, which are antioxidants that protect the nervous system from damage and enhance mental clarity. All darkly-hued berries also pack a heavy dose of vitamin C, which has been associated with elevated moods.
Salmon contains significant omega-3 fatty acids, which are proven to improve mood. Omega-3s are vital in the body’s cell manufacturing process and make hair and skin appear more lustrous. Despite its many health benefits, salmon is under-consumed in the U.S. Most people eat it less than once per month. To derive the greatest benefit, shoot for two to three 4-ounce servings per week of wild-caught salmon. Canned salmon is a good alternative if you can’t find or afford the fresh stuff.
Although egg white omelets have become wildly popular due to their high protein and low calories, the yolk is really where it’s at. Egg yolk is high in choline, which helps regulate mood, enhance memory, and improve muscle control. Eggs also offer plenty of nutrition, including Omega-3s, zinc, B vitamins, and iodine.
While these foods offer abundant benefits, medical experts caution that they are not the only requirements for a healthy frame of mind. Adequate sleep and exercise are also important, as is following any medical regimen prescribed by your doctor.
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