Over the past few years we’ve identified that in addition to making the world a kinder, better place that our readership of Kindhearts like you also want to live longer and healthier lives. As such, we’ve gone on a recruiting mission to find great new writers who can give us ideas so that we can all “Live well. Be kind.”
Today is our first of many great ideas for living better. Enjoy!
6 Feel-Good Foods That Naturally Boost Your Mood
When we’re feeling down, we often turn to our friends for solace or look for an activity that can distract us from our worries. Our first instinct isn’t usually to turn to food — unless it’s to dig into a pint of ice cream for comfort— but eating the right diet can actually boost your mood and your happiness overall. Whether you’re stressed out and anxious or you just don’t have the energy or motivation to get through the day, picking the right foods can help keep you feeling relaxed and upbeat.
It might sound farfetched that food can so greatly affect your mood, but research shows that certain types of diets can have a significant effect on your happiness levels. One study from the Journal of Psychosomatic Research found that people who ate a typical Mediterranean diet filled with whole and unprocessed foods such as fruits and vegetables, nuts, legumes, and olive oil were much happier than those who ate a standard Western diet that included a lot of fast food, dessert, and soda.
Eating healthy foods can provide you with the nutrients your body needs to help fight off depression and keep your stress levels at bay. If you need a little boost in your mood, try eating one of these six feel-good foods that will have you smiling in no-time.
1. Dark Chocolate
As if you need another excuse to eat the sweet treat: dark chocolate has been found to fight off anxiety and depression. One study from the Journal of Proteome Research found that daily consumption of chocolate led to lower levels of stress hormones. Cocoa also contains antioxidants called polyphenols which can help fight against depression and other mental disorders.
Make sure you opt for chocolate with 70 percent cocoa or higher, and avoid kinds with added sugar, which can actually have the reverse effect.
Berries such as raspberries and strawberries contain a natural ingredient that closely resembles valproic acid, a chemical used in prescription mood-stabilizing drugs. One study from the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine also found that daily consumption of goji berry juice increased people’s general feelings of wellbeing
Turkey contains two important nutrients that help play a role in your mood: selenium and tryptophan. Research from the journal Biological Psychiatry found that subjects who received selenium supplements experienced a decrease in anxiety and elevated mood. Additionally, tryptophan is an amino acid that is responsible for synthesizing serotonin, the “feel-good” neurotransmitter. Increasing your intake of tryptophan results in higher levels of serotonin, which can not only improve your mood, but even your behavior.
If you’re a fan of snacking throughout the day, start chowing down on some nuts. Like turkey, nuts can also help boost your serotonin levels, and it only takes one ounce of nuts such as walnuts, almonds, or hazelnuts to improve your happiness.
Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines contain omega-3 fatty acids, an important mood-boosting nutrient. Research shows that increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids can help relieve symptoms of depression. One study from the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry even found that omega-3 fatty acids are just as effective at improving mood as an antidepressant.
6. Leafy Greens
Greens such as spinach, kale, broccoli, and other lettuce contain folic acid, an important B vitamin that plays a role in mood regulation, including the synthesis of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Research from the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry shows that increasing your intake of folate can help reduce depressive symptoms.
When in doubt, you’re always best sticking to whole, unprocessed foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals, but the above foods especially can help keep you calm and positive overall.