It is no secret that nourishing our bodies with vitamin-rich foods has a tremendous impact on our physical health and vitality. What we don’t always realize however, is that nutrition can also impact our mental health, emotional well-being, and mood. This post will focus on a handful of “superfoods” that are natural mood boosters. While I maintain that there are few things that can make me smile as broadly as an ice cream cone can, these foods are true nutrient-rich agents that nourish your body and mind from within.
5 Mood-Boosting Foods
1) Atlantic Salmon & Other Oily Fish: Rich in unsaturated fatty acids; Omega-3, EPA and DHA, oily fish, among countless other benefits, aids in hormone function, including those responsible for regulating mood. It has been found that individuals who are deficient in Omega-3 fatty acids are more likely to struggle with depression and flat affect. Further, as our brains are largely made up of such fatty acids, increasing the amount of healthy fats we consume from oily fish improves neurotransmitter communication, thus helping our brains function more efficiently.
2) Eggs: Who doesn’t love eggs? Well, maybe some people don’t, but I think they’re sp-egg-tacular! Apologies, I couldn’t resist that one. According to our Naturopath, Sue-Anne-Hickey, and other nutrition experts, the healthiest way to eat an egg is with a runny yolk; poached being the very best way to go as there is no heated oil involved in the cooking process. Regardless of how you like your eggs however, the nutritional benefits are present. On the emotional front, eggs contain high levels of the nutritional agent choline, known to promote optimal cell function and the firing of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, that are associated with mood and energy level. The high protein content also helps sustain energy over longer periods of time than any other food group.
3) Chicken and Turkey: we apologize to our vegetarian and vegan friends for this one (and the eggs for that matter). As previously mentioned, protein in itself is perhaps the greatest energy booster, and maintainer. These benefits can be obtained from any protein supplement. About that poultry though, turkey, as you may already know, contains the amino acid tryptophan which is used by the body to create serotonin; what is perhaps the brain’s most important neurotransmitter for what concerns mood. Tryptophan also aids in the production of melatonin which regulates sleep. Further, lean poultry contains amino acid tyrosine which is used by the body to produce adrenaline for which low levels are associated with low mood and depression. These benefits, coupled with the high protein content are a good combination for energy and positive mood.
4) Spinach: Chock-full of vitamin B, spinach is a great mood booster, again, thanks to it’s association with serotonin. Vitamin B deficiencies negatively impact the production of serotonin in the brain, and we know that decreased levels of serotonin are strongly associated with depression. Spinach and other leafy green vegetables rich in various B vitamins such as folate, B3, and B12, directly help protect against the negative psychological effects of a vitamin B deficiency. You’d be surprised how common this is, and how often blood test results for individuals struggling with depressive symptoms reveal some form of vitamin B deficiency.
5) Dark Chocolate: Yes, we have saved the best for last. Dark chocolate has recently gained popularity thanks to the discovery of it’s benefits to cardiovascular health. We are very pleased to affirm that it has been known to improve mood as well by releasing endorphins in the brain, and once again, boosting serotonin levels. Dark chocolate has also been found to decrease the production of stress hormones and anxiety levels in the participants of several studies. As if we needed another reason to enjoy a delicious square of dark chocolatey goodness.
We hope this post has inspired you to incorporate some more of these nutritious foods into your everyday diets for their significant benefits to emotional health. We truly are what we eat; choose to be healthy, fresh, and vital.