General Health

10 Foods to Boost Your Mood

Our mood goes up and down. Sometimes we’re happy and cheerful, feeling like everything is possible. Then bad days come along, and our mood worsens. A bad mood can range from sadness to anger.

The impact of a bad mood is tremendous. It decreases our confidence, lowers productivity, and produces negative thinking. What seemed possible yesterday may look like a mission impossible today for a person in a bad mood.

Mood fluctuations can be bothersome, but there’s a lot you can do to tackle this problem. Start with modifications in your nutrition. Incorporate these ten mood boosting foods into your diet.

1) Fatty fish

When it comes to mood, food, sweets, and desserts reign supreme in our minds, the reality is that you’ll obtain the best results if you focus on healthy food options. Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines, and trout are incredibly beneficial for your mood. These fish are an abundant source of Omega-3 fatty acid. Omega-3 fat is an essential fat, but our body is unable to produce it. That’s why we need to obtain them through diet.

These healthy fats have a wide range of health benefits, but they also have the potential to improve our mood. Evidence shows that low Omega-3 fatty acids levels are associated with many brain diseases, including depression and anxiety disorders. The mood-supporting benefits of Omega-3s are particularly expressed in women.

The underlying mechanisms through which this fatty acid improves mood require further research. However, these healthy fats support proper brain function. In a healthy brain, levels of neurotransmitters are balanced. As a result, our mood could be in balance too.

At this point, there is no standard dose that works for everyone. Adults may want to go for 250-500mg of combined DHA and EPA (types of Omega-3s) a day. While consuming oily fish is a better option, you can also opt for fish oil supplements. 

2) Bananas

Bananas are easy to find all year round. This delicious and versatile fruit is a good source of fiber and several antioxidants. The nutritional content of bananas speaks volumes of their importance. You see, bananas are rich in potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, magnesium, copper, manganese and contain almost no fat.

The most well-known benefit of bananas is blood pressure management. Potassium in this fruit helps lower hypertension. But there are many other reasons to consume this fruit. Evidence confirms that bananas are among mood-boosting foods. 

Vitamin B6 content allows bananas to improve mood. This micronutrient is necessary to synthesize feel-good neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. 

As mentioned above, bananas are a great source of fiber. Fiber improves digestion, but it does much more than that. When combined with fiber, sugar is released slowly into the bloodstream. As a result, the blood sugar level remains stable and improves mood control. Otherwise, low blood sugar levels could cause negative moods, such as mood swings and irritability. 

Bananas, especially unripe fruits, are a good source of prebiotics. Prebiotics are compounds in food that induce the growth or activity of beneficial microorganisms such as fungi and bacteria. More precisely, you need prebiotics for gut health. A healthy gut microbiome is linked with lower rates of mood disorders.

Consume bananas on their own or combine them in fruit salads and other recipes. 

3) Fermented foods

Fermentation is a process that involves yeast and bacteria breaking down sugars. The process aids food preservation but also delivers a myriad of health benefits. The health potential of fermented food stems from probiotics. They are good bacteria that improve gut health and support the function of gut bacteria.

We often underestimate the importance of gut health. Not only does it maintain the function of the digestive system, but it plays a major role in the wellbeing of the whole body, including your brain and mood. In fact, the gut microbiota is crucial for the biosynthesis of serotonin, a feel-good brain chemical. 

Serotonin is the key neurotransmitter that stabilizes mood, feelings of wellbeing, and happiness. It impacts the entire body. Additionally, serotonin allows brain cells and other cells of the nervous system to communicate with each other. Maintaining serotonin levels in balance is important for boosting your mood. Low serotonin levels can harm your mood and emotional health. They may also contribute to conditions such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Enrich your diet with sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, kefir, natto, kombucha, and probiotic yogurt. That way, you will support your health and improve your mood. 

4) Dark chocolate

Chocolate lovers rejoice! 

Chocolate is a favorite treat for millions of people around the globe. While we love to indulge in chocolate, it’s not the best food for our health. Well, dark chocolate is the exception. Thanks to the high content of flavonoids, active compounds, and powerful antioxidants, dark chocolate can improve mood states or attenuate negative mood.

Consumption of dark chocolate releases various compounds such as theobromine, caffeine, and N-acylethanolamine. The latter is a substance similar to cannabinoids, and it has the potential to improve your mood.

Health-promoting flavonoids in dark chocolate increase blood flow to the brain. Also, they relieve inflammation and support brain health and cognitive functions. As powerful antioxidants, these compounds can also reduce oxidative stress. All these things are necessary for mood regulation. 

Not all dark chocolates are equal, though. Strive to consume those with at least 70% cocoa. Dark chocolate is a healthier option than its regular milk counterpart due to its high cocoa and low sugar content. Don’t let the healthful effects to fool you. Eating too much is not recommended. Instead, you should stick to one to two small squares at a time due to calories. You can also obtain flavonoids and antioxidants from other sources such as green tea.

5) Berries

Berries have vibrant colors and are beyond delicious. Ideally, we should consume berries to support general health and wellbeing. They are abundant in vitamins and antioxidants. If you’re looking for a natural way to improve your mood, then you should introduce berries to your diet. Since they are abundant in antioxidants, berries successfully neutralize free radicals.

That way, they combat oxidative stress. Evidence confirms that oxidative stress harms the entire body. It’s also implicated in various mood disorders, including depression and anxiety. 

When it comes to phenolic compounds, berries are particularly rich in anthocyanins. These compounds give berries their vibrant colors. At the same time, consumption of anthocyanins can lower depression risk by 39%.

In one study, consumption of blueberries improved mood within two hours. 

To boost your mood consistently, try to enrich your diet with berries. You can consume fresh berries or buy them frozen. 

6) Oats

Oats are among the healthiest grains you can eat. They are a good source of fiber, carbs, and also happen to be gluten-free. Oats are abundant in important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant plant compounds. 

How do oats boost your mood?

Several mechanisms are involved, actually. First, oats are high in fiber. As mentioned above, fiber ensures the release of glucose into the bloodstream is gradual. This stabilizes energy levels and your mood. 

Moreover, oats suppress appetite. Evidence shows the foods that promote satiety also help us cope with mood states provoked by energy-restricted energy intakes. People on a diet are highly likely to experience mood-related problems. Insufficient food intake can make you moody. Oats can help improve your mood.

Whole oats are high in antioxidants, especially avenanthramides. These compounds lower blood pressure levels by increasing the production of nitric oxide. As a result, they promote blood flow throughout the body. Proper blood flow allows nutrients to reach the brain. This supports brain health. Let’s not forget that antioxidants protect us against oxidative stress. A useful tip: yet another great source of antioxidants is dark leafy greens.

Oats are an affordable and tasty way of boosting your mood. You can add them to your diet in several ways. The easiest way is to eat oatmeal for breakfast. Other options are to include oats in baked goods and bread.

7) Beans and lentils

Beans and lentils are satiating foods with high fiber content, an abundance of plant protein, and high levels of vitamin B, including folic acid, minerals such as calcium, potassium, zinc, and phosphorus. They tend to be low in fat and pose as an excellent replacement for meat in vegan and vegetarian diets.

You’ve probably never thought beans and lentils could be food for mood, but they are. Evidence confirms that moderate consumption of this food can offer protection against severely depressed mood, especially to perimenopausal women. Beans and lentils can also lower anxiety in men. 

Mood-boosting properties of beans and lentils are down their fiber content. However, they also supply the body with B vitamins. These vitamins improve mood by increasing levels of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). All these neurotransmitters are important for mood control. Keeping them in balance allows you to improve your mood in a healthy way. 

The versatility of beans and lentils allows you to incorporate them into your diet easily. You can use them to prepare soups, stews, and casseroles. Pureed beans can act as a basis for dips and spreads. You can also add them to salads with leafy green vegetables such as spinach. You can add chia seed to your oatmeal, for example. Options are endless. 

8) Nuts and seeds

If you love snacks, then nuts and seeds are a far better option than chips and pretzels. Like beans and lentils, nuts and seeds are a good source of plant protein and fiber. But they also supply the body with healthy fat. The benefits of nuts and seeds are numerous. They improve heart health, brain function, and more.

Mood control is yet another positive effect of consuming these foods. Let’s take walnuts as an example; they can improve your mood effectively. Their mood-boosting properties are down to the high antioxidant capacity, polyphenol, and ALA (a type of Omega-3 fatty acids). These nutrients can support brain physiology.

Nuts and seeds, such as pumpkin seeds, are an abundant source of tryptophan, an amino acid responsible for the production of serotonin. Additionally, these foods have an important place in a Mediterranean diet, which supports brain health. Remember, a healthy brain equals better mood control.

Instead of unhealthy snacks and processed food, opt for nuts and seeds. Sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts are some of the many nuts and seeds you can add to your diet. But make sure to consume them in moderation.

9) Eggs

Eggs are a superfood thanks to their nutritional content and a wide range of health benefits they provide. A whole egg supplies the body with protein, vitamin A, folate, vitamins B5, B2, vitamin B12, phosphorus, selenium, vitamin D, and many other nutrients.

Studies confirm a whole egg can demonstrate antidepressant-like effects. Eggs can elevate the incorporation of tryptophan in the brain. 

Additionally, eggs are a good source of choline. The body needs this nutrient for many functions, including the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. This neurotransmitter regulates memory, mood, muscle control, and other nervous system functions. 

Start your day with a delicious breakfast containing eggs. They will boost your energy levels, keep you full for hours, and encourage the production of crucial neurotransmitters. All these things give you a better mood.

10) Sweet potato

Sweet potato comes in a variety of colors, such as purple, white, and orange. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. One cup (200g) of baked sweet potatoes contains 29% of the recommended daily value of vitamin B6. As seen throughout this post, vitamin B6 helps synthesize serotonin. 

The same amount of sweet potatoes supplies the body with 15% of the recommended daily value of niacin. Niacin (vitamin B3) is part of the metabolizing process, which converts tryptophan into serotonin.

Sweet potatoes are also rich in fiber, which can help maintain mood control throughout the day. Additionally, anthocyanins in purple sweet potatoes can protect your brain. They do so by lowering inflammation and preventing free radical damage. Antioxidant activity and improved brain health are potential mechanisms of action that lead to better, more consistent mood. 

Conclusion

A bad mood is not unusual. We all experience it from time to time. In some people, mood problems are more serious than in others. Even though it seems as bad days are going to last forever, the reality is different. There is a lot we can do to improve our mood.

Nutrition is crucial. The food we eat has a direct impact on how we feel. A healthy eating pattern can help us control our mood more effectively. This post focused on ten delicious and healthy foods for a good mood. Strive to enrich your diet with these foods. Remember, the benefit of food is that it provides consistent benefits instead of quick fixes.

Sources

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