It’s that time of year when we’re swapping swimwear for sweaters. The sun, a bronzed glow, and sandy feet are all a distant memory so far away, you don’t even remember what chilled rose tastes like.
It can be hard to feel motivated when the weather outside is unpredictably frigid or rainy, and every day feels like the Monday blues, as the sun sets earlier. A great place to elevate your mood is through what you’re putting on the plate. Certain foods can affect emotions on a chemical level. These foods are not only great for your overall health, but contain compounds with proven, evidence-based mood compounds that naturally elevate your mood. That’s right- there are nutrients shown to reduce the risk of depression, and vitamins and minerals that stimulate neurotransmitter production. What you choose to eat really can impact your mental state, just as much as your physique. Food and mood work in tandem; when we feel good, we care to look good and that begins with what we opt to eat.
Pretty much a given to be in any fridge, and for great reason. Though nothing in life is perfect, dare I say eggs are truly the most perfect food? They’re affordable, versatile, full of healthy fats and protein, and bursting with nutrients that can elevate our moods. The egg yolk contains a nutrient called choline and specific amino acids, that both help to make neurotransmitters that in turn improve mood. The yolk also naturally contains vitamin D, which has long been proven to help manage anxiety and depression. Bottom line? Definitely don’t toss that egg yolk.
This incredible fish contains omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin D, which have both repeatedly been proven to reduce depressive symptoms. One 3.5 oz serving of wild salmon contains a whopping 124% of the daily value for vitamin D. Salmon is also bursting with vitamin B12 and the amino acid tryptophan, which both assist in the production of brain chemicals that create a happy state of mind. Aim to put salmon on your plate at least twice per week. Tip: Canned wild salmon is super affordable, shelf stable, and just as great of a choice as its fresh counterpart.
03 Bell Peppers
Did you know that one bell pepper contains 169% of the RDI amount for vitamin C, making it virtually the best source of vitamin C? Foods rich in vitamin C can help with the production of endorphins, the same feel good hormone that is released after a hard work out. Plus, fall and winter is typically peak cold and flu season, so not only will all that vitamin C help with your mood, but your immunity will be strong too. One bell pepper a day keeps the MD away….
Of course, there can be no food and mood article without mentioning the beloved, always dependable chocolate. Just eating chocolate alone makes you feel good because it’s so rich and delicious. Dark chocolate and cacao contain amino acids that stimulate the production of endorphins and serotonin. Serotonin levels increase with the concentration of cacao, so darker chocolate (70% or higher), or raw cacao gives you the highest effect.
Nearly 90% of the receptors for the happy hormone serotonin are located in the gut. Yogurt is one of the best sources of probiotics, those good bacteria that help our microbiome to flourish and foster a healthy environment for lots of serotonin production! Bonus: go for Greek yogurt which has nearly triple the amount of protein than regular yogurt. Double bonus: Sprinkle chia seeds on your yogurt for a boost of omega 3s and gut friendly fiber. Any foods that promote smooth digestion will positively impact how you feel.
06 Dark, leafy greens
Dark, leafy greens like kale, spinach, swiss chard and even broccoli, are basically nature’s multivitamin. In the context of good food good mood, these greens contain the magic mineral magnesium. Magnesium positively influences serotonin levels in the body. In fact, studies prove that patients with decreased levels of serotonin have been shown to have also had a magnesium deficiency, as well as increased anxiety and depression. But nearly half of Americans are deficient in magnesium! A great way to begin upping the ante is to add an extra handful of these dark leafy gems to your diet, daily.
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