Your mama always said, “You are what you eat,” and maybe you always rolled your eyes as you continued to drink your can of soda. But mama was right. (Crazy how much that happens these days, hey?) The foods (and drinks) you consume can not only affect your weight, but also your mood.
Scientists have spent countless hours exploring how different foods interact with your brain. There’s a great deal of evidence that eating a Mediterranean diet — vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, whole grains, olive oil and lean protein — can not only lessen the risk of serious conditions like heart disease, cancer and diabetes, it can improve your mood and reduce the risk of depression.
So if you’re not eating great, and feeling worse, put down the chips and soda and pick up one of these healthy alternatives that are sure to put a smile on your face.
It’s pink, it’s tasty, and it’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids. One acid in particular, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), is effective in reducing depression. In one study, British scientists gave patients with serious depression — feelings of sadness and pessimism, inability to work, sleeplessness and low libido — a daily dose of this nutrient for three months. At the end of the trial, more than two-thirds of the patients reported their symptoms had been reduced by half. Salmon is also high in vitamin B-12, which helps the brain produce chemicals that improve your mood.
If you’ve never tried salmon, try adding it to a simple light caesar salad (you can even cheat and buy the bag). Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and after removing the scales from the salmon steak, brush it with a little extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle it with kosher salt and a dash of cayenne pepper, squeeze the juice of half a lemon on top, and bake for 10-12 minutes or until fully cooked. Allow to cool, cut into small pieces and add to the top of the salad you’ve prepared. An easy, fast, healthy meal!
No, unfortunately, iceberg lettuce doesn’t cut it for this mood-boosting option. Look for greens like spinach, kale and chard to give you a lift. These greens contain magnesium, which can a profound effect on your mood. Our diets do not contain enough of it, according to researchers — about half of all Americans have a magnesium deficiency. Other foods high in magnesium include quinoa, almonds, cashews, black beans and milk products.
Need some ideas on how to spice up your leafy greens? Try these healthy options:
Now here’s an option for boosting your mood that you can eat right out of the container. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants like anthocyanin, which help your brain produce dopamine, and folate, which contributes to serotonin production. Serotonin is an important chemical and neurotransmitter in the human body that regulates your mood and social behavior. More serotonin = better mood + less depression.
Wanna really put yourself in a good mood? Find a you-pick blueberry farm and eat those puppies right off the bush. Being out in the sunshine will do wonders for you too.
And you thought we were taking away all the fun. Grin. That soda might not be good for you, but a cup of hot chocolate can sure cure the blues. In a recent study, doctors gave 72 healthy, middle-aged participants a cup of hot cocoa once a day for 30 days. The result? It significantly increased “self-rated calmness and contentedness.”
So go on. Have that cup of chocolate and don’t worry about a thang. We even have some fun recipes for inspiration.
Eat your healthy, mood-boosting foods while wearing an inspirational, mood-boosting T-shirt! Shopping can have positive effects on the brain too. Just sayin’. Wink, wink. :)