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Feeling rather low lately? Melancholy, stress, anxiety, and low energy can hit for a variety of reasons. If you’ve been feeling like you need a mood lift, it’s common to turn to candy or caffeine. Though both will certainly inject your day with temporary energy, over the long run these food fixes can actually make you feel worse.
There are certain foods, however, that can help you banish the blues and give your mood a much-needed boost. Of course, food won’t single-handedly solve severe depression or chronic mood disorders (work with a doctor to best manage these health concerns), but the food we eat impacts our mood. And there are some foods that have proven mood- and energy-boosting benefits.
Take a trip to your local grocery store and pile your cart high with these feel-good, energy-boosting foods. All seven have been show to effectively elevate your mood, so add them to your diet and watch your state of mind improve.
1. Dark Chocolate
Think about the last time you reached for a piece of chocolate. Chances are, you were cranky about a long grocery line wait or feeling down about not getting a promotion. This is one indulgent food that’s okay to keep in your feel-good arsenal, but just make sure it’s dark chocolate.
Eating about 1 1/2 ounces of dark chocolate daily reduces stress hormones, according to a 2009 study. Levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, decreased in subjects who consumed dark chocolate for two weeks. Remember not to overindulge, since chocolate is not calorie-free!
Get your chocolate fix with our 3-Ingredient Chocolate Berry Cups that are chock full of guilt-free goodness. Plus, they’re so pretty!
2. Fruits & Veggies
Not only are you doing your body good by eating fruits and vegetables, your mental outlook will improve, too! Fruits and veggies are high in the phytochemicals that reduce inflammation, and this makes both your body and brain feel better.
Lycopene, found in tomatoes and other fruits and veggies, prevents the formation of compound-causing inflammation associated with depression. The vitamin C found in most fruits and veggies is not only good for your immune system, it also decreases depressive symptoms by blocking free radicals and allowing your brain to recover faster from stress.
Get your daily dose of fruits and veggies in the easy way! Check out our 12 Favorite Whole Food Snacks, pick a favorite, and enjoy. Most of these take just minutes to make.
Feeling down? Eat more fish! Fish such as salmon, sardines, tuna, and herring contain omega-3 fatty acids, which play an important role in brain health. Since our bodies don’t produce this vital fat, we need to get it from food sources. Omega-3s alter brain chemicals like dopamine and serotonin to improve mood and feelings of self-worth.
A recent study suggests that supplementing with omega-3 fats improves depressive symptoms in those with bipolar disorder.
Discover some simple, delicious dinner ideas that incorporate fish. The best part? You can grab the ingredients while shopping at Ikea. Check out 10 Recipes Made with Ikea Food here.
4. Foods with Folate
Folate, also known as vitamin B12, helps prevent mood disorders and keeps the central nervous system running smoothly. Folate can be found in beets, kidney beans, broccoli, and lean chicken and beef.
A study from the National Institute on Aging found that folate deficiency is associated with depression, and women with high folate levels are less likely to suffer from depression.
It’s easy to get bored of the same old recipes, so why not switch up your usual menu (and spike your plate with folate) with these 10 Chicken Breast Recipes to Break You Out of The Dinner Slump.
5. Brazil Nuts
Stash some Brazil nuts in your purse for mood stability. The selenium in them boosts your mood and mental performance.
One study found that participants with low selenium levels suffered increased depression and anxiety. Brazil nuts provide about 2,500 times more selenium than other nuts, and eating just three Brazil nuts a day gets you to the recommended daily allowance.
Buy raw Brazil nuts from local health food stores and keep them in an airtight container in your fridge. The cooler temps will keep them from going bad as quickly.
6. Greek Yogurt
Make yourself a Greek yogurt parfait when you’re having a bad day. Add in some fresh berries and granola for a special treat! The high protein content in Greek yogurt raises levels of feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine.
One study found that calcium reduces anxiety, and the carbs and vitamin D found in Greek yogurt are required for production of serotonin.
Turn your mood boost into a sweet treat, too! Our Easy Greek Yogurt FroYo can be prepped in minutes and enjoyed whenever you need a little lift.
Next time you’re feeling low, reach for a banana. They make a great, healthy snack and contain many important vitamins and minerals, including tryptophan and potassium.
Tryptophan raises serotonin levels, and has been used to treat depression, anxiety, and insomnia. The carbohydrates in bananas are the good-for-you kind, and promote production of serotonin.
Find fun ways to eat bananas (and other mood- and energy-boosting foods) with our 12 Healthy Snack Ideas.
Now that you’ve got these 7 splendid mood boosters on the menu, all you’ve got to do is prepare for many happy days to come. Cheers to cheery eating!