Did you know that foods have the ability to boost your mood? I’m not just talking about the sugar rush you get after an ice cream cone. I’m talking about the more long-term mental health issues that many deal with, such as anger and depression. Following a diet that is high in certain nutrients may have the ability to decrease depression, sad or angry thoughts, and irritability.
Foods that are good for your mental health
If you feel like you could benefit from a mood boost, check out these nutrient sources and their colossal properties!
It may sound like a broken record to you, but choosing whole grains gives tons of health benefits. “Whole grains are rich in B vitamins that are important for energy and optimal brain health. Thanks to their fiber content, whole grains also help to keep blood sugar from spiking and crashing, which can help you avoid mood swings...Carbohydrates including whole grains also boost levels of serotonin, the ‘feel-good brain chemical.’”1 How can you choose more whole grains? Opt for whole-grain bread over white bread, wheat pasta over refined pasta, and even brown rice, farro, or quinoa instead of white rice.
Did I just hear you groan? Yes! Green vegetables are an amazing source of nutrients that our body needs for cell health. Foods rich in folates such as spinach and broccoli help the body make serotonin. “In one meta-analysis, researchers found that individuals with depression consume less folate and have lower blood levels of the vitamin compared to those without depression.”1 Low folate intake has also been linked to poor memory and tiredness. Try adding spinach to your usual green salad, throw it into a soup, or even with your pasta sauce. The flavor is light and easy to camouflage, while the benefits are well worth it!
It may seem counterintuitive to recommend eating something “fatty” but this is when we refer to healthy fats. Fatty fish such as salmon are loaded with all kinds of mood-boosting nutrients. Omega-3 fatty acids. “Those who consume ample amounts of the omega-3 fat DHA are less prone to depression, aggressiveness and hostility,” according to registered dietitian Elizabeth Somer.”1 Fatty fish is also a good source of vitamin D and should be consumed often, especially in the winter months when the skin has less exposure to the sun and therefore is unable to make enough vitamin D. “Vitamin D deficiency has also been associated with low moods and poor cognitive performance in older adults.”1
Putting mood-boosting food into practice
Try adding baked salmon, brown rice, and a spinach salad to your weekly dinner rotation. If you enjoy these things, try adding them biweekly or even daily, and take note of whether or not you feel your mood is affected for the better!
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