This season is challenging for me, dark and getting colder are not any of my favorite things! So anything that I can do to boost my mood, I say sign me up! It turns out that maintaining a healthy diet does more than just improve our physical health. Studies have shown that there is a strong connection between the foods that we eat and our mood.
T’’is the season to eat foods that will also help to boost your mood. Here is how you can do this. “Happy Foods”, as I call them, should be added to your grocery list immediately and become regulars in your kitchen. Here is a list of the few that are my favorites.
Chocolate (you knew this would be number one on my list right?)
A study in the Journal of Pharmacology found that eating a few ounces of dark chocolate per day improved people’s moods. Add to that the combination of the emotional response when eating chocolate – the velvety texture, sweet aroma, and good memories it produces – along with its dash of caffeine and its sugar content, which boosts serotonin levels, and you’ve got one fabulous ‘feel-good food’.
Dark chocolate is best for a few reasons; as you may already know, sugar is a contributing cause of the blues and is typically found in higher content in chocolate as the percentage of cocoa goes down. Cocoa on the other hand is very good for boosting our mood, so the higher the percentage of cocoa the better. The flavonoids found in cocoa and chocolate are full of antioxidants that help to lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to the brain and heart.
Other foods containing flavonoids: cranberries, apples, red wine, peanuts, onions
Flax seeds and Walnuts
A study conducted by researchers at Harvard University and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that an omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) found in flax seeds and walnuts, alleviates symptoms of depression.
Flax seeds and walnuts contain some of the best sources for omega-3 fatty acids and walnuts have the bonus ingredient uridine, which in combination with each other, help improve communication between the neurons in your brain. This is the same action that some antidepressant drugs perform – just in an edible delicious natural way!
Other foods containing ALA: soybeans, flackers, hemp seeds, chia seeds
Soft, nourishing, and rich, this fruit is surprisingly rich in good fats, protein and fiber. While quite heavy in texture, it is gentle on your stomach, heart healthy, calming to your system, soothing to your skin and joints and creamy delicious. Avocados help to build strength and a healthy immune system.
Avocados contain a wide variety of good healthy fats that can help to increase serotonin levels in the brain. 3 types of phytosterols are also packed into its nutrition profile, contributing to its natural ability to control inflammation. Enjoy with a dab of lime, pinch of salt and cilantro.
Other foods containing healthy fats: olive oil, nuts, and most cold water fishes
Seaweed: Rich in minerals, vitamins, and easily digestible protein, seaweed is almost a perfect food. I love it raw (after I soak it) on my salads or sautéed with garlic and sesame oil. Seaweeds can help keep your thyroid running smoothly and efficiently which is very important for maintain good energy levels and a balanced mood. This nutrient dense food is ideal for nourishing the entire body with a plethora of essential vitamin and minerals that offer the perfect nutrition to help you be energized and feel balanced. If you are frightened by the thought of trying seaweed start with a seaweed salad at any Japanese store or restaurant. They have mastered the dressing so that the real raw taste is masked in a delicious form that you may enjoy.
A study in the Journal of Nutrition showed that people who consumed the lowest levels of folate were 67 percent more likely to suffer from depression than those who took in the most. Popeye was right on with this one. Spinach is rich in folate, another nutrient that helps to boost serotonin levels in the brain. That’s incentive enough to stock up on this nutrient food.
Other foods containing high levels of folate: asparagus, broccoli, and beans
A report from researchers at Oxford University found that women recovering from depression who were deficient in tryptophan had a higher chance of regressing back to depressive states. So if you’re feeling a bit down, grab a banana….Bananas contain the amino acid tryptophan plus vitamin B6, magnesium and potassium which, working together to help the body produce serotonin.
So make eating healthy, eating for energy and a balanced mood a priority today. Start with one or two of these items and enjoy them, experiment with them and most importantly watch the evidence ; a happy , clear, strong mind and good health.
And the best part, we do not really have to compromise, I mean chocolate is on the list right? Sweet!!!