When you are feeling low and need a boost of energy and some cheering up, consider foods that will enhance your mood and help you get a healthy lift. “Mood-boosting foods can have powerful healing energy to people suffering from low energy, fatigue, depression and anxiety,” says Lindsey Smith, nutrition coach and author of Junk Foods and Junk Moods: Stop Craving and Start Living.
“Simply adding more of these foods into your diet can go a long way with improving your overall health and well-being,” she says. “These small additions to someone’s lifestyle can really add up.”
Leafy Green Veggies
Greens are the number one missing food from the American diet, says Smith. Top your plate with kale, spinach and collards for a healthy meal and to enhance your mood during the day. “Adding greens can help boost your mood and lift depression,” says Smith.
If you ever need an excuse to splurge on some chocolate, a less-than-stellar mood can be a good reason. “Aside from the taste and sexy feeling dark chocolate embodies, this chocolate also contains phenylethylamine, which is a feel-good endorphin often released in the brain when people fall in love,” says Smith. “You will not only feel more connected with yourself, but also more loving and affectionate toward others.”
When you are feeling a little nutty after a busy day of chasing toddlers and coaxing babies to crawl, a handful of nuts may be just what you need to lift your spirits. “Walnuts, along with most other nuts, contain L-Arginine, an amino acid that improves blood circulation,” says Smith. “This can help make your head feel clear and can enhance your confidence level.”
To boost the sweetness of your life, consider a colorful fruit to get you out of that cranky mood. “This fruit not only helps your skin appear more youthful and radiant, it also contains dopamine, which is a stimulatory neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers,” says Smith.
Pumpkin treats are not just reserved for October. Break out the pumpkin seeds during any season to improve your mood. “These seeds contain tryptophan, which is an amino acid that helps your brain produce the stress reducing hormone serotonin,” says Smith. “This will help make you feel more calm and relaxed.”
Red Hot Peppers
Spice up your mood and your meal with red hot peppers, suggests Brad Hines, independent health writer and social media analyst. “Red hot peppers, like habaneros, actually can speed up your pulse, acting as a stimulant, metabolism booster, and if they hurt to eat, afterwards a natural high sets in from the endorphins your body produces to compensate,” he says.
Beyond foods, many beverages may keep you in positive spirits. Kava Tea has been known to promote relaxation and social promotion, says Hines. “When I do drink it, I do feel it physically, a kind of buzz, like a numbness in your face if it is strong tea,” he says. “Eating natural foods to boost mood is important for mental and physical health in a way that is not a powerful synthetic pharmaceutical – allowing for a double health benefit.”
Salmon and Sardines
If it smells fishy, it’s likely going to provide you with healthy benefits and a mood boost at the same time. Salmon and sardines offer plenty of great mood-boosting omega-3s, says Trudy Scott, certified nutritionist and author of The AntiAnxiety Food Solution: How the Foods You Eat Can Help You Calm Your Anxious Mind.
“The mood boosters in fish like salmon and sardines offers omega 3s, amino acids to make brain chemicals like serotonin and vitamin D for a great mood and bone health,” says Scott. “I grew up in South Africa eating a lot of sardines and love them.”
Grassfed Red Meat
If you’ve been warned to stay away from red meat, consider a grassfed red meat option. “Grassfed red meat has amino acids for making feel-good chemicals like serotonin, plus zinc which is calming,” says Scott. “Plus, it also has the same levels of omega-3s as fish and iron we need for energy and focus and making neurotransmitters.”
Red meat is a great source of vitamins B6 and B12, too. “For some people, zinc and vitamin B6 deficiency plays a key role in anxiety disorders (especially social anxiety) and red meat is a good source of both of these nutrients,” says Scott.← Entering the Work Force: Preparing Your Teen for the First Job | Layering With Love: How to Keep a New Baby Warm →