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Published on June 27, 2014

10 Mood-Boosting Foods To Add to Your Diet

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate helps release endorphins
that make you feel happy.

Most of us would agree that food in general makes us happier. But did you know that there are some that can literally release those feel-good chemicals in your brain and elevate your mood?

Well, it’s true. And it’s mostly due to the fact that certain nutrients and vitamins found in some of our favorite foods simply allow for it to happen. So instead of finding refuge in a decadent chocolate cupcake on days when you’re feeling low, you might want to try one of these foods or snacks:

1. Fatty Fish

It’s all about the omega-3 fatty acids contained in fish such as salmon, herring, sardines, tuna and rainbow trout. Its mood-boosting abilities can be largely attributed to the fact that fat slows digestion and produces a calming, satisfying effect as a result. Fat also helps maintain function in the areas of the brain that are responsible for regulating mood and emotion, so dig in!

2. Dark Chocolate

Finally, an excuse to eat chocolate! Well, in moderation at least. A small square of dark chocolate helps release endorphins (those chemicals produced by the body that make you feel happy). It can also improve blood flow to the brain and make you feel more energetic and focused. Remember, the darker the better, so opt for the highest cocoa percentage you can find.

3. Fruit and Vegetables

Fresh fruit and veggies are packed with all kinds of vital nutrients and antioxidants. One study even found that those who ate two or more servings of fruits and veggies a day were 11 percent more likely to have overall good health. And when you feel good physically, you’ll feel good mentally too.

4. Lentils

Legumes such as lentils and beans are packed with folate and folic acid, which are both important for regulating how you feel each and every day. Low levels of folate have been linked to increased rates of depression and folic acid helps prevent problems related to the central nervous system and even mood disorders.

5. Pasta

If you’re thinking about eliminating carbs from your diet, you may want to reconsider. Carbohydrate-rich foods can actually increase serotonin levels, which is another chemical produced in the body that elevates your mood.

6. Spinach

Popeye was right. Not only does this leafy green make you strong, but it can also help decrease depression, bad moods and even help you think more clearly, thanks to a high concentration of folate.

7. Oatmeal

Whole grains found in oatmeal, whole wheat/grain bread and brown rice, are packed with the mineral selenium, which acts like an antioxidant. Some research has shown that oxidative stress in the brain is connected to some cases of depression in older folks, so selenium is believed to counteract those effects.

8. Chicken

Tryptophan, which is also found in turkey, is believed to produce a soothing effect among those who consume it. And since tryptophan is needed to help make serotonin, it can also make you happier. In addition to chicken and turkey, it’s also found in soybeans, beef, eggs and nuts.

9. Greek Yogurt

This popular type of yogurt is extremely rich in calcium, which triggers the body to release feel-good neurotransmitters that reduce anxiety, depression and irritability.

10. Almonds

Almonds are known to have an instantaneous energy-boosting effect due to its high amino acid count. They also contain phenylalanine, a chemical that causes our brains to produce natural mood-stabilizing hormones.

Nutrition Counseling

Looking for more information or guidance on improving your diet? Crozer-Keystone offers nutrition counseling to help you navigate your specific nutritional needs. To request an appointment, please call 1-800-CK-HEALTH (1-800-254-3258).

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