They say you are what you eat. If you stuff yourself with junk food, after a while you’ll end up with a “blah” feeling that makes it difficult to function in the world around you. However, there are also foods that have the opposite effect. Can eating healthy really lead to happiness? To some degree, yes. Here are five mood boosting foods that can give you a quick pick me up when you’re feeling down.
- Walnuts. One of the reasons behind the “blah” feeling of junk food is that sugary snacks cause your blood sugar and insulin levels to rise quickly, followed by a crash when the effect wears off. Walnuts, on the other hand, are low in carbs but high in protein. This means they can provide you with the energy that you need without the crash afterward. They’re also rich in antioxidants, which can help boost your mood, as well as magnesium, which may reduce your risk of depression. Cashews are another helpful nut in the mood boosting department. Just a handful in the afternoon can help you feel significantly better the rest of the day.
- Coffee. This is a double-edged sword. We’ve discussed before how too much caffeine, or caffeine too late in the day, can lead to insomnia and other health problems. However, a small amount of coffee can make you more alert and focused throughout the day, as well as decreasing your risk of depression and Type 2 diabetes. But the more you drink, the less effective the health benefits of caffeine are. Limit yourself to two regular-sized cups of coffee per day, for maximum effectiveness.
- Oysters. It’s been said that oysters are an aphrodisiac. That may not be entirely true, but even if they can’t get you in the mood, oysters do have certain nutritional properties that can improve your mood. They improve circulation, reduce inflammation, and are a great source of vitamin B12, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which help improve your brain functions and help your mood.
- Kale. Leafy greens are healthy in a variety of different ways, and kale is generally considered to be one of the most beneficial. It has a number of vitamins, including A, C, and K, as well as magnesium, which, as we mentioned earlier, is very helpful in staving off depression. Have some kale in a salad for lunch, with some walnuts sprinkles on top, and you’ve got a great, super healthy meal that can help you feel great. You can also put it in the juicer along with some other fruits and vegetables for a healthy smoothie. Or you can even bake the leaves with a little olive oil and make kale chips for a mid-day, mood boosting snack.
- Dark Chocolate. We saved the best for last. You probably know that dark chocolate—the darker the better—provides you with antioxidants. What you may not know is that it’s also a great source of magnesium, and can improve your blood flow and increase brain functions, all of which are integral to improving your mood. Enjoy it in moderation, of course, but a small slab of chocolate every day can do wonders for your health. And, all other health benefits aside, who doesn’t feel better after having a little chocolate?
These are just a few of the ways you can change your diet to improve your mood. A healthier diet in general can help you feel better and happier in the long term. Talk to your doctor and see what foods they recommend, based on your specific health history, to help you improve your mood and live a happier, healthier life.