It is possible to eat your way to a better mood WITHOUT indulging in a carton of Ben and Jerry’s, albeit the occasional carton isn’t that bad right 😉 When you consume foods that support the health and function of the brain, especially the mood-regulating neurotransmitters, you are not only fueling your body with good nutritional value, you are helping your mood
First off, lets talk about the two worst foods for your mood (I assure you they aren’t good mood food contrary to how you think you feel while eating them) … you guessed it sugary foods and fatty, processed foods. These foods, when consumed on a regular basis, not only can lead to weight gain but the can cause mood swings, anxiety as well as depression.
While it’s not a nutritious food choice, consuming sugar and fat together do increase serotonin, a mood boosting neurotransmitter. However, we can increase serotonin levels to improve our mood by consuming nutrient-rich foods that will not compromise our health, or cause drastic mood swings, fatigue or irritability.
Try these good mood foods to help you beat those winter blues:
Asparagus~ This early spring vegetable is a feel-good brain food, rich in folate, vitamins A, C, B-Complex, potassium, manganese, and iron. Folate is essential for energy production. Deficiencies in folate or potassium affect mood and are associated with increased rates of depression. Asparagus is also a great source of tryptophan, which assists in the formation of serotonin, a mood boosting neurotransmitter. Delicious steamed, sautéed with olive oil and sea salt and a squeeze of lemon; added to salads, stir fries, and more.
Pastured Eggs~ Start your day with this satisfying brain food. Eggs help you feel full longer, thus prevent cravings and irritability caused by hunger. Eggs are packed with energy producing and mood boosting: protein, Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B-complex, vitamin D, and iron. Organic eggs from pastured chickens contain higher levels of these vital nutrients than eggs from caged hens raised indoors. B vitamins relieve anxiety and elevate mood through the production of serotonin. Depression can be caused by a deficiency in one or more of the B vitamins. Adequate intake is paramount for senior adults as these nutrients become more difficult to absorb as we age. In fact, it is not uncommon for people unaware that they have vitamin B deficiencies to be misdiagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Enjoy omelets with fresh vegetables, or grab a few hard boiled eggs and tote them to work for a nutritious snack.
Greek Yogurt~ Low in sugar, Greek yogurt is a better dairy choice than regular yogurt. Greek yogurt is a great source of protein which helps boost energy, produce hormones and prevent depression. Its calcium content signals your body to release its feel-good neurotransmitters. The magnesium relieves stress, improves mood and wards off depression. Calcium and magnesium deficiencies can cause anxiety, irritability, nervousness and depression. Organic Greek yogurt from grass-fed cows contains higher amounts of stress reducing CLA healthy fats. Organic dairy products such as Greek yogurt are also rich sources of tyrosine, an amino acid that supports metabolism and elevates mood. A lack of adequate tyrosine in the diet can lead to depression or anxiety. Use in place of sour cream or enjoy with fresh fruit for breakfast.
Mushrooms~ This versatile food is not only a culinary favorite, but an excellent source of protein, vitamin D, vitamin B6 and folate. Vitamin D is essentially a neuro-hormone present in mushrooms that promotes emotional wellness and enhances brain function. As a rich source of protein and folate, mushrooms fuel the body with energy, while working to relieve anxiety and depression. Slice them up and add them to salads, soups, chili, and omelets.