When you’re feeling down, you may turn to food as a way to try to feel better. But are there actually foods that boost your mood? Or do you just think some foods make you feel happier when you eat them?
It turns out that most of the foods we eat when we need a pick-me-up are often not the ones that have any real effect on our mood. In fact, many foods we eat when we’re feeling blah – especially those filled with lots of saturated fat, added sugar and sodium – may make us feel worse, not better.
Although more research needs to be done to determine the cause-effect relationships between food and mood, there are some foods that have been shown to improve brain health. This may translate into positive effects on mood and mental health, including depression and anxiety. Even if they don’t improve your mood in the short term, they’re delicious and good for your overall health in many ways.
Here are 9 of the best foods to boost mood:
Chocolate – When it comes to the question ‘What are the best mood boosting foods?’, many people put chocolate at the top of the list. This delicious treat may satisfy even the worst of moods with its sugar, fat and caffeine, as well as its pleasurable taste and texture. But if you turn to dark chocolate, you’ll also be getting healthy flavonoids, which may boost brain health and help regulate mood.
A double dose of chocolate? Yes, please!: Double Chocolate Brownies
Almonds – High in fiber, healthy fats and protein, almonds keep you nourished without mood-busting blood sugar spikes and crashes. They also contain tryptophan, an amino acid that helps produce serotonin, which helps boost mood.
This mood-booster combines almonds and chocolate: Chocolate Almond Cookies
Berries – Berries are some of the healthiest fruits you can eat, thanks to their wide range of antioxidants. This helps manage inflammation throughout your body, which may improve symptoms of depression and other mood disorders.
This smoothie tastes so good and makes you feel good: Mixed Berry Smoothie
Oats – When it comes to blood sugar-stabilizing fiber, oats are a powerhouse. With 8 grams in a cup, you’ll keep your blood sugar and energy levels on an even keel. That makes it less likely you’ll experience the highs and lows that come from rollercoaster blood sugar rides.
Not only does this recipe contain oats, but mood-boosting berries, too: Blackberry Crisp
Fatty Fish – Some fish, such as salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, herring and sardines, contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. These have been shown to improve heart and brain health. Some Research has also linked increases in omega-3’s to lower levels of depression.
Here’s an easy and delicious way to make a mind-boosting meal: Almond Crusted Salmon
Eggs – Many people eat eggs for the protein they contain. They’re also high in choline, which helps produce neurotransmitters in the brain that improve mood. Additionally, the zinc, magnesium, vitamin D and amino acids in eggs may help ease anxiety.
Looking to up your egg game? Here’s a recipe for you: Avocado Deviled Eggs
Banana – Sure, bananas have sugar, which may boost your mood. But since one large banana also has 3.5 grams of fiber, that sugar is released slowly into your bloodstream so it doesn’t spike blood sugar. That makes it less likely you’ll experience mood swings or be irritable.
Try this easy banana bread recipe the next time you need a lift: Banana Bread
Avocado – Loaded with healthy fat, avocados are also rich in folate and vitamin K. Research suggests these nutrients may help reduce symptoms of depression. High levels of B vitamins in this fruit may also lower stress.
This healthy breakfast may just put a smile on your face: Avocado Toast
Sweet Potatoes – These filling spuds are rich in magnesium, which may help reduce stress, depression and anxiety. They also contain vitamin B6, which aids the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter in your brain that makes you feel good.
Fries are a go-to pick-me-up food and these are yummy: Sweet Potato French Fries