Feeling a little blue?
Want to reach for that ice cream or cookies? Many of us have cravings for high fat or sweet foods when we are feeling sad. But, are these really the best foods for your mood? Do you actually feel better after eating them or are you just using them to cover up your emotions?
Our mood is definitely influenced by food.
The brain communicates via “messengers” called neurotransmitters which send messages back and forth to different cells. These neurotransmitters control our mood, energy levels, appetite, and are significantly influenced by what we eat. The foods you choose can definitely have a significant effect on your mood. So, what foods should you eat to better control your mood when you are feeling sad? Here are some suggestions to include in your diet today to boost your mood and happiness:
1. Omega-3 fats. A 2004 systematic review found that low intake of omega-3 fats is associated with greater rates of depressed mood. A study in the Archives of General Psychiatry found that supplementation with EPA, an omega-3 fat, helped reduce symptoms of depression by 50%.
This is not surprising because our brains and nervous systems are mostly made up of fat, 20% of which are omega-3s. Aim for at least 2 servings of wild-caught fish per week and take a daily omega-3 supplement to get the most mood boosting benefit.
2. Eat your spinach and other green leafy vegetables. Increase your intake of B-vitamins such as folate, found in nutritious foods like spinach, broccoli, kale, and dried herbs. B-vitamins help produce serotonin, a feel good hormone, to help boost your mood.
3. Add turkey to your sandwich. Turkey, which is high in the amino acid tryptophan, can also be used to produce serotonin and boost mood. Add a few slices to a sandwich at lunch time or roast a turkey breast for dinner as a lean source of protein.
4. Nuts and seeds. Nuts, especially Brazil nuts, contain selenium a mineral missing in many people’s diets. People lacking selenium tend to report higher levels of depression.
Selenium acts as an antioxidant in the body, reducing free radicals in the brain that can cause damage, which leads to depression. Other foods that include selenium: whole grains, fish, and beans.
5. Chocolate. Didn’t expect to see chocolate on this list? Well, it actually is a mood booster. Researchers found that women’s mood did improve after eating chocolate when compared to other less desirable foods.
It is believed that this effect may have to do with the resveratrol content of the chocolate, an antioxidant that can help improve mood and decrease inflammation. It may also be related to an emotional connection between eating chocolate and happier times.
If you want to include chocolate in your diet, be sure it is dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao for the most benefit.