Eating right doesn’t just make you healthier. It can also make you happier. Scientists are discovering more and more ways diet impacts mood. Some great ways to help curb crankiness can be found right in your grocery store. In this post, we’re spotlighting three “feel-good” foods. What you eat can help elevate your mood in two essential ways. First, certain foods deliver several key nutrients that help your brain chemistry combat depression and improve the quality of sleep. Second, they help build energy — and we’re not talking quick fixes that wear off, like sugar or caffeine. These foods offer a powerful combination of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to help you take on the challenges of the day.
Salmon. It’s well known that omega-3 fatty acids are important for heart health, but what’s less known is how important they are to boosting your mood. Why? The brain is 60% fat, and it particularly loves omega-3 fats. Most Americans get far too little omega-3 in their diet. According to Geagan, growing evidence suggests that consuming inadequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids is associated with depression. So bake, broil, or sauté some salmon today!
Cocoa. If you’re having chocolate cravings, give in — in moderation. Cocoa powder can impart feelings of happiness because it releases dopamine and endorphins. Dopamine triggers the brain’s pleasure receptors, and endorphins provide a natural euphoric feeling. Remember, sweetened cocoa is a treat — so enjoy wisely.
Mushrooms exposed to UV light. Vitamin D is another key part of mood maintenance. Vitamin D helps regulate the brain’s mood-maintaining neurotransmitters (serotonin, melatonin and dopamine). The likelihood of depression is higher in people with a vitamin D deficiency. One food that has become widely available of late is vitamin D-fortified mushrooms. These mushrooms have been exposed to UV light, which naturally boosts our vitamin D level; one cup packs 100% of the recommended daily amount.
For more insights on “good-mood” foods, please see the Dr. Oz Show’s feature, How to Crank-Proof Your Diet.