There are all sorts of reason why you might need some help improving your mood. Maybe you’re dealing with an unusual amount of stress at home or at work. Or perhaps your just feeling down. The weather could also be dampening your spirits. It’s also very possible – if you’re like most people – that you just feel cranky every once in a while.
As we learn more and more about how our brains and bodies work, though, it’s becoming more evident that the thing we call “mood” is pretty complex. The way that you feel and react to situations could be powerfully influenced by the chemistry in your brain at the time. With this same knowledge, experts are starting to understand just what a powerful influence your food can be on your mood.
But, let’s get to the point: What foods can improve your mood? Here are five foods to better your mood.
Chocolate – This is a pretty obvious one. People tend to immediately go for some chocolate when they’re having a bad day. And there’s plenty of solid science to back this up. For one thing, chocolate has a fair amount of sugar – which can give you a quick flood of mood-enhancing neurochemicals. But it’s not just about the sugar. Cocoa (from which chocolate is made) is packed with antioxidants that have been shown to improve mood. If you’re worried about what some extra chocolate will do to your waistline, stick to dark chocolate which contains less fat and sugar but provides more beneficial antioxidants.
Omega-3s – Found in many fatty fish, like salmon and tuna, omega-3 fatty acids have been given credit for a huge variety of health benefits. While several of these claims have since been debunked, the thought that these fats can help to improve mood and brain function stand strong. Studies have shown that omega-3s can reduce symptoms of depression and have even demonstrated promise in treating children with ADD and ADHD.
B vitamins – The B family of vitamins work on a huge array of biological systems. When it comes to mood, though, B12 and B9 (folic acid) are of particular interest. Both of this vitamins have been shown to fight depression and improve overall brain function. Fortunately, they can easily be paired together in mood-boosting meals like chicken Caeser salad or salmon and broccoli. Keep in mind, with that last suggestion, that you’ll also be getting your omega-3s.
Greek yogurt – Is there anything yogurt can’t do? Well… yes. But we like to keep things upbeat here. Speaking of upbeat, yogurt can improve your mood in several ways. First, the high protein content in Greek yogurt has been shown to improve cognitive function. Second, probiotics – which encourage healthy gut bacteria – can help to improve mood and overall mental performance while fighting cognitive impairments.
Slow carbs – Throw some berries or oats in that yogurt and you are all set. As mentioned earlier, carbohydrates stimulate a rapid increase in feel-good chemicals in the brain. The problem is that, depending on the type of carb, this could be short-lived and leave you feeling worse off than you were before. Slow carbs, though, take longer to digest and therefore give you a longer lasting boost.
If you’d like to learn more about health and fitness in general, take a look at some of our other articles.