Does eating make you happy? For most of us, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” Most of the time, the level of happiness we derive from our meal depends on what we are eating. Believe it or not, there are foods out there that not only fuel the body, but have the ability to boost mood, as well!
Do you consider vegetables to be “happy foods?” Admit it, you’d probably rather have macaroni and cheese, right? Give veggies like mushrooms and spinach a chance, and you can enjoy a brighter outlook.
Mushrooms, especially the shiitake variety, are packed with vitamin D. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to depression, so upping your mushroom consumption can also help up your mood.
Spinach contains folic acid which helps to reduce fatigue and improve mood. Spinach is also rich in iron, a mineral that helps deliver oxygen to your cells, giving the body energy on a cellular level. Spinach is also rich in Vitamin C and magnesium which are crucial to the production of serotonin and dopamine – two brain chemicals responsible for making us feel happy and joyful.
There should be a picture of an avocado in the dictionary next to the word Super-food. If you’re wondering why the avocado was not included with the veggies above, it’s because avocados are technically fruits. Other fruits like bananas and berries are fantastic mood-boosters, as well.
Because avocados contain choline, when you eat them, your body’s levels of serotonin are increased. Serotonin impacts the entire body, helping with sleeping, eating, and digestion. It is considered a natural “mood stabilizer” and helps reduce depression, and regulate anxiety. Avocados don’t get any better than they do in this Creamy Avocado Dip!
Full of vitamin B6, magnesium and potassium, bananas provide plenty of energy to give your brain and body a boost. They are also high in fiber, making them a natural probiotic. Bananas are also an excellent source of magnesium (a natural stress-reducer.).
Delicious, nutritious, full of vitamins and a variety of antioxidants, fresh berries are a great “happy snack.” Blueberries and acai berries are especially high in these nutrients and antioxidants. Try them by the handful, sprinkled over a bowl of Greek yogurt, or blended into a cool, refreshing slushie.
Need some protein to make you happy? You got it – oysters and salmon fit the bill perfectly!
Oysters naturally improve circulation throughout the body and are very heart-healthy. Oysters are also a great source of zinc and vitamin B12, which keep us energized, help us fend off stress and encourage our brains to regulate mood. Whether you enjoy them raw or Rockefeller, oysters are delicious!
Salmon is full of vitamins B6 and B12. Vitamin B12 is used by the body for energy, and vitamin B6 is essential to the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleeping and waking cycles. Salmon is also loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked with improving symptoms of mood disorders. Check out these 25 Super Salmon Recipes!
Where are the sweets? Good news – there are ways for diabetics to enjoy a treat, while boosting your mood. Chocolate (yes, chocolate) and Greek yogurt are two great options.
Yes, chocolate makes you happy (literally and chemically!) The phenylethlyamine in chocolate makes you feel alert and cheerful. Phenylethlyamine is also known as the “love drug” because it can trigger the same feelings of excitement and contentment as being in love. Chocolate also contains a fat called anadamide which triggers dopamine production, leading to a feeling of intense well-being.
Eating chocolate releases endorphins which are known to decrease levels of both stress and pain. As a side benefit, research has suggested that cocoa’s flavanols (phytonutrients with antioxidant properties) may contribute to maintaining a healthy brain. These protective benefits could positively affect learning and memory functions. Here’s a great chocolate treat that’s low carb and sugar-free!
Don’t forget to add some walnuts to your favorite chocolate treat. The high levels of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals in walnuts improve focus, alertness, and provide a boost of energy. The vitamin E found in walnuts has also been shown to decrease risk for Alzheimer’s dementia. Enjoy a handful of walnuts as an afternoon snack, or add walnut butter to your favorite cookie recipe.
Many people are not aware that the type and amount of bacteria in your gut can affect your mood. Dairy products containing active cultures increase the probiotic bacteria in your gut. One study found that women who ate probiotic yogurt twice a day experienced less stress than those who ate none.
You can also drink your way to happiness. While a glass of red wine now and again can work wonders for mood, we’re talking about coffee and green tea in this article!
Research has found that drinking coffee in the morning is tied to increased levels of energy, as well as feelings of kindness and pleasure. Coffee enjoyed with friends or family is connected to feelings of affection, friendship, and satisfaction. Even when had only occasionally, a cup of coffee brings on calm and tranquility.
A Japanese study of over 40,000 people found that drinking five or more cups of green tea per day reduced stress levels by over 20% compared to those who drank less than one cup. Green tea contains L-theanine, an antioxidant thought to be the bringer of relaxation for green tea drinkers.
The fact that what you eat has a direct impact on how you feel is an astounding one. It should empower us to make better food decisions in order to live life feeling our best!