As we enter into the holiday season, the mental health of many of us is at risk. While some may choose to indulge in comforting treats, others may not be able to get out of bed due to sadness. This is a time of year when we need all of our mental “tools” handy in order to keep balanced and happy! Here are some foods that can help boost your mood, keep you satisfied and nourished during this busy time of year!
Food and mood: consume this food to improve your mood
Food and Mood, two words that are interconnected to each other. Your mood will affect the food you eat and that food will affect your mood. Often people say that when they are stressed or in a bad mood they will consume an excessive amount of food, or alternatively lose their appetite.
Why is this the case? Inside the body there are physiological stressors which impact one’s mood. There is also the hormone serotonin which functions to regulate one’s appetite and mood. Then how does food impact mood? Based on research, it is known that the amount of glucose in the blood can affect someone’s mood.
Let’s see some food that affects one’s mood.
Tea: feel calmer
The tannin content in tea will cause a sense of relaxation. Tannin will affect serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain which produces feelings of calmness and happiness.
Coffee: overcome stress
Coffee will increase blood flow in the brain and refresh the mind. A study at Harvard said that consuming caffeinated coffee could reduce the risk of depression in women. Coffee contains caffeine which affects the activities of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. The HPA axis impacts the body’s ability to manage and overcome stress.
Chocolate: boos your mood
Chocolate can cause endocrine glands to release a hormone which increases the likelihood of happy feelings and behavior. Research by James shows that cocoa contains polyphenols which help to reduce symptoms of depression and plays a role in antioxidant potential.
Beans and nuts; improve your mood
Beans and nuts are great sources of mood-boosting nutrients. Research shows that eating beans and nuts will help balance one’s mood.
10 Surprising (and Tasty) Mood-Boosting Foods
Did you know that certain types of food can actually boost your mood? Overall, diet makes a big impact on the way you feel, both physically and mentally. A healthy diet that’s high in whole foods and low in processed junk food can boost your mood immensely. However, there are also certain foods that contain mood-boosting properties that can help give you a little boost when you’re feeling down.
What Are Mood-Boosting Foods?
Have you ever had a day where you’re feeling down, but you reach for something to eat and instantly feel happier, more alert, and mentally clearer? What we eat can have a huge impact on our mood. Eating foods low in nutrition, such as junk foods, processed foods, and sweets can actually have a negative impact on our mood. You may feel better right after eating the tasty fare, but in a few hours, you’ll feel lethargic and unmotivated. On the other hand, if you turn to healthier, whole food options, you’ll experience a lift in your mood, along with sustained energy to take on the rest of your day. Simply put, there are just some foods that are better for your mood than others.
One surefire way to boost your mood? Send yourself a delectable treat from Edible Arrangements®. Try our Cheesecake With Chocolate Dipped Fruit Box. It includes rich and airy cheesecakes topped with chocolate covered fruit, along with a trio of chocolate covered fruit, including apples, strawberries, and banana bites. Or, check out our Simply Daisies® arrangement jam-packed with pineapple daisies made with pineapple and cantaloupe balls.
Top 10 Mood-Boosting Foods
If you’re looking for some foods that will provide a little mental boost, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve gathered up the ten best mood-boosting foods on the planet, and you might even be surprised at the results:
1. Fatty Fish
Research shows that a nutrient-dense diet that is high in fatty fish can reduce symptoms of depression. The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, namely EPA and DHA, help to protect, restore, and rebuild the brain, helping to improve the mood.
2. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate contains an amino acid called tryptophan. This amino acid helps in the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which can increase feelings of overall happiness. Serotonin influences your mood and is most widely associated with feelings of happiness.
3. Green Tea
According to research, green tea has been shown to improve mental clarity, cognitive function, and relaxation. Plus, it contains many mood-boosting nutrients, including L-theanine, which can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Rich in flavonoids and antioxidants, blueberries have been shown to increase your mood within just two hours of eating them. This is believed to be caused by an increase in cerebral blood flow, anxiolytic-like effects, and an enzyme called monoamine oxidase which is involved in the production of serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline.
Spinach contains a hefty amount of magnesium, which can increase serotonin levels and boost your mood. Additionally, about half of all Americans are low in this mineral, which has been linked to an increased risk of depression and anxiety.
Probiotics, the healthy bacteria that are often found in yogurt, can boost mood in addition to improving gut health. Researchers believe this is due to the fact that the bacteria may help to decrease inflammation in the gut, resulting in a more positive mood.
7. Nuts and Seeds
Research shows that consuming nuts and seeds strengthens brainwave function in regard to cognition, healing, learning, memory, and other key brain activities. This improved functionality also results in an improved mood.
Bananas may actually help promote the mood-boosting benefits of serotonin. As mentioned previously, serotonin is the chemical in the brain that is responsible for feelings of happiness and well-being.
Oats provide a high amount of fiber that helps stabilize blood sugar levels. Blood sugar levels that remain stable throughout the day result in an improvement in mood over time. Additionally, oats contain high amounts of iron, which can improve mood, especially in those with iron deficiency anemia.
The caffeine in coffee helps decrease mental fatigue, improve concentration, and increase motivation. Additionally, a scientific review found that one cup of coffee every four hours can result in sustained improvement of mood over the course of a day.
From coffee to fatty fish, these foods can help improve your mood and help you see the positive in each day. Incorporate these foods as a part of a healthy and balanced diet to see the most improvement in your mood and mental clarity.
Good food for a good mood: top 5 mood boosting food categories
There’s a well-known saying; ‘you are what you eat’ but most of us interpret this to relate to our appearance rather than our mood.
Without a steady source of fuel from the foods we eat, our mind and bodies don’t function well. Blood sugar fluctuations and nutritional imbalances from unhealthy eating patters can often cause mood swings, irritability, fatigue and worsen symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Beyond mood and general wellbeing, the role of diet and nutrition on mental health is very complex and has yet to be fully understood. However, research between the two is growing rapidly. In recent years, evidence shows that food can contribute to the development, prevention and management of mental health conditions including depression and anxiety.
Ultra-processed foods and gut health
What we eat, especially foods that contain chemical additives and ultra-processed foods affect our gut environment. Ultra-processed foods contain substances extracted from food (e.g. sugar and starch), added from food constituents (hydrogenated fats), or made in a laboratory (flavour enhancers and food colourings). Ultra-processed foods are manufactured to be especially tasty by the use of such ingredients and are very common in the typical Western diet. Some examples include fizzy drinks, sugary or savoury packaged snacks, packaged breads, buns and pastries, frozen foods such as fish fingers or chicken nuggets and instant noodles.
But what does this have to do with your mood?
90% of serotonin (our happy hormone) receptors are in the gut. A recent study suggests that eating a healthy, balanced diet such as the Mediterranean diet and avoiding inflammation-producing foods may be protective against depression.
Another study outlines an Antidepressant Food Scale, which lists 12 antidepressant nutrients related to the prevention and treatment of depression. Some of the foods containing these nutrients are all fresh, whole foods such as oysters, mussels, salmon, watercress, spinach, romaine lettuce, cauliflower, and strawberries.
A better diet can help, but it’s only the first step – just like you cannot exercise out of a bad diet, you also cannot eat your way out of feeling depressed or anxious.
What should I eat to improve my mood?
A simple place to start is to eat whole foods and avoid or reduce your quantity of packaged or processed foods. These are often high in food additives and preservatives that disrupt the healthy bacteria in the gut.
Probiotics are best known for their role in digestive health, tying into our previous mention about the link between gut health and our mood. You can increase your intake of probiotics by eating foods such as:
Whole grain foods
Whole grains are important sources of B vitamins which are vital for brain health but can sometimes be confusing. For a food to be considered whole grain there should be at least 1 gram of dietary fibre per every 5 grams of carbohydrates.
Whole grain foods include:
- Brown rice
- Wild rice
Omega-3 fatty acids
Evidence suggests that omega-3 fatty acids may have a role in brain functioning, with omega-3 fatty acids deficiencies being linked to mental health problems. Foods containing omega-3 fatty acids include:
- Other oily fish
- Flax and chia seeds
Eating more fruits and vegetables is linked to lower rates of depression and although the mechanism isn’t clear, a diet rich in antioxidants may help to manage inflammation that is associated with depression and other mood disorders.
Berries pack a wide range of antioxidants and phenolic compounds, which pay a key role in combatting imbalances of harmful compounds in your body. Berries are particularly high in anthocyanins, a pigment that gives them their purple-blue colour and one study associated a diet rich in anthocyanins with a 39% lower risk of depression-related symptoms.
Spinach and other green vegetables contain the B vitamin folate. Although the connection isn’t fully understood, low folate levels have been consistently associated with depression in research. Folate deficiency may impair the metabolism of serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline – all of which are important for mood regulation, but further research is needed to understand the exact role of folate and mental health.
Folate-rich vegetables include:
Folate is also plentiful in beans and lentils with a cup of cooked lentils providing 90% of the recommended daily allowance.
Good food for a good mood
Feeling good comes from a diet that has enough health choice carbohydrates at regular times to keep blood glucose levels stable and diets should contain a wide variety of protein and vitamin and mineral containing foods to support the body’s functions.
As a rule, plenty of fruits, vegetables and wholegrain foods with some proteins including oily fish, will support a good supply of nutrients for both good health and good mood.
Some top tips include:
- Increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables
- Eat enough fibre and include wholegrains and legumes in your diet
- Include probiotic-rich foods such as plain yogurt without added sugars
- Reduce sugar intake at breakfast
- Add fermented foods such as unsweetened kefir, sauerkraut or kimchi to your diet to maintain a healthy gut
- Eat a balance of seafoods and lean poultry and less red meat each week