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5 Foods That Can Improve Your Mood

5 Foods That Can Improve Your Mood

Foods That Can Improve Your Mood

What you eat can actually influence how you feel, and food is known to influence the brain's biochemistry in both a positive and negative way. Several diffterent mood disorders are linked to weight gain, an unhealthy lifestyle, binge eating, and many of the behaviors that can lead to weight gain and obesity. Chronic low energy can drive a person to eat many more calories than they should, and low energy can be caused by poor diet choices.

Many of the foods in an unhealthy diet cause fatigue and low energy levels, while the right food choices can improve mood, fight against depression and other mood disorders, and protect the brain. Carbohydrates for instance are thought to help the amino acid tryptophan enter the brain, which in turn can boost serotonin production, and as a result certain carbohydrates can be important to eat for a stable mood.

Keep in mind that this doesn't mean that you should eat every carb that you find, but getting the right amount of carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables is important, and even low calorie diets like the HCG diet include some carbohydrates, while diets that completely eliminate most carbohydrates run the risk that the dieter's mood and energy levels may drop. Essentially, all healthy foods have a mood improving effect in a way, because most of them will stabilize blood sugar and help you fight against fatigue, while high sugar and processed foods offer a quick burst of energy which is usually followed by a drop off.

Mood boosting food #1 - Mussels

Mussels are thought to improve brain function because they have one of the highest levels of naturally occurring vitamin B12. It is thought that many people in the United States are deficiency in B12, and getting more B12 naturally through food is one of the best ways to get more of it. B12 is involved in maintaining the myelin nerve sheath that protects the cells of the brain and nervous system. B12 is also important for protecting against cognitive decline as a person ages. Mussels also have extra nutrients and vitamins that may improve mood such as iodine, zine, and selenium. Iodine is important for keeping the thyroid gland operating properly, and thyroid problems can cause many different types of mood symptoms.

Mood boosting food #2 - Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is one of the best foods for enhancing mood. It enhances blood flow to the brain and it also improves concentration. If you do eat dark chocolate, use the brands that have the highest amount of cocoa, (90% or higher) and avoid the brands that have milk or high amounts of sugar in them. A study at the Nestle Research Center found that 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate each day can improve your mood and reduce the production of stress hormones, and it has plenty of other positive health benefits such as antioxidants. Be careful to watch the number of calories in dark chocolate, and try to limit your servings to less than 2 ounces if you plan on eating it regularly.

Mood boosting food #3 - Fish

You may know that fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, and the types of fish that have the highest levels of omega-3 such as fatty fish, salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel and other types of cold water fish are always healthy options. Omega-3 fatty acids protect against neurodegeneration as a person ages, and it has been linked to serotonin and dopamine production. It is thought that omega-3 fatty acids can fight against mood disorders and depression. And, of course, there are dozens of other health benefits for consuming omega-3 fatty acids on a regular basis including a lower chance of developing heart disease and a lower stroke risk.

Since your body does not produce these important fatty acids you need to be sure that you are getting enough of them in your diet. So, go out of you way to try to eat fish regularly, and although getting omega-3 fatty acids from your diet is one of the best ways, you can also take a supplement if you find that you aren't eating enough fish. Also, keep in mind that you want to limit your consumption of tuna because it usually has high mercury levels, but ocean caught salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, as well as some of the smaller fish species such as sardines.

Mood boosting food #4 - Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is packed with calcium and protein, and the low fat varieties are a great option for a mood boosting food along with fresh berries or other low glycemic index fruit. The protein and fruit combination can stabilize your blood sugar and keep you full in between meals, which has a mood enhancing effect and can improve your energy levels. Also, greek yogurt has a higher amount of calcium than milk and other dairy products, and low levels of calcium have been linked to mood symptoms such as anxiety, depression, irritability and more. Make sure that you are getting enough calcium in your diet, and eating greek yogurt on a regular basis is one of the best ways to ensure this. Also, stick with the organic brands whenever possible, or yogurt produced from grass fed cows which is higher in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), an important healthy fat that improves brain function, reduces body fat, and can improve the immune system.

Mood boosting food #5 - Honey

Honey, particularly raw honey, has shown to be one of the best foods that can improve your mood, and it is also one of the healthiest sweeteners that you can use (in small quantities because it is high in calories). As previously mentioned, it is important to have some carbohydrates in your diet to maintain mood and balance tryptophan levels in the brain, and honey can help with this. More importantly, honey is one of the best anti-inflammatory foods, and chronic low levels of inflammation have been linked to mood problems and depression. Honey is also rich in disease fighting antioxidants and helps the body fight free radical damage. If you eat sugar, it can release free radicals in the body and cause damage, while eating raw organic honey does the opposite.

Keep in mind that there are several different brands of honey and that it is easy to purchase processed or refined honey which is so processed that it becomes almost identical to sugar. The raw varieties have the highest concentration of natural antioxidants and disease fighting compounds, and are the best option if you want the mood boosting effects of honey. You want to avoid these brands and stick to raw organic honey if you are going to eat honey at all. Otherwise it is best to avoid any type of sweeteners and stick to natural sweeteners like Stevia. In the case that you have to use a sweetener that has calories use honey and never use sugar or an artificial sweetener, and the extra mood boosting effects and disease fighting benefits are a great incentive.

About the author

Dr. Constance Odom, MD

5 min read