hot chocolate improves mood

10 Healthy Foods to Improve Your Mood

While many believe “comfort” foods, like macaroni and cheese, greasy fries or a Boston-crème doughnut, will help them feel better, the scientific evidence disagrees. The research on which foods have a long-lasting influence on mood suggests a feel good treat should actually be something that is good for you!

The article “Diet and Mental Health,” published on mentalhealth.org, reports research suggests what people eat may affect both their physical and mental health. According to another study, published in Nutritional Neuroscience, it is just as important to minimize consumption of prepackaged and high-processed foods as it is to eat more wholesome foods. Not only will a healthful/wholesome diet help control your weight, there is scientific evidence that strongly suggests better dietary choices can help ward off symptoms of sadness.

Oral Health

foods that help oral health

The American Dental Association also points out that a well-balanced diet with a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein will help your teeth stay healthy. For more information on how nutrition can benefit your oral health, contact your local dentist for more information.

Nuts

nuts to improve health

All nuts are densely packed with protein, fiber and beneficial fats. You should try to eat about one ounce of mixed nuts every day. While all nuts contain highly-value nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts, almonds and especially cashews are the go-to nuts for improving attitude.

Cashews have been making headlines for years as a potential natural antidepressant because the nuts contain high levels of vitamin B3 and magnesium. Additionally, cashews contain L-tryptophan, an amino acid the body uses to synthesize serotonin, a “feel-good” neurotransmitter.

Grass-Fed Beef

grassfed beef improves mood

Jacka says high-quality proteins are an essential component of an attitude-boosting diet. She also points out that grass-fed beef is an excellent example of a high-quality protein as well as a solid source of omega-3 fatty acids that have both shown promise in managing depression. Studies have also shown a correlation between high blood-sugar levels and negative feelings. Protein is vital in balancing blood-sugar levels, which has a significant role in controlling depression and mental illness.

Researchers from Australia sought to demonstrate how red meat benefits those with depression and anxiety in 2012. They looked at a group of 1,046 women aged 20 to 93 years, and found something jaw dropping.

The women who ate less than three to four servings of lamb or beef weekly were twice as likely to get a depression and/or anxiety diagnosis. That’s right: TWICE as likely. The researchers also discovered that lifestyle and demographics could not have accounted for the result.

A single serving of grass-fed beef is also a good source of vitamins B2, B3 and B6 and contains nearly 50 percent of the USDA recommended daily amount of vitamin B12! Grass-fed beef is also an incredibly high source of protein and contains essential amino acids like cysteine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tyrosine, tryptophan and valine. All of these nutrients have been shown to have benefits in boosting mental health.

Fish

salmon improves mood

While it has long been touted as “brain” food, fish is a food that has shown a multitude of health benefits across myriad of studies. According to findings published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, fish plays a substantial role in numerous traditional regional diets, such as the Mediterranean and Japanese diets, many of which show anti-depressive benefits. Jacka suggests consuming three-ounces of fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, two or three times a week. As an added bonus, the American Dental Association says that because it is so rich in important vitamins and minerals, like calcium and Vitamin D, eating fish is a good way to keep your teeth strong.

Whole Grains

whole grains improve mood

Eating high fiber, unprocessed whole grains, instead of refined flours and processed-flour products, will benefit both your body and enhance your attitude. Marjorie Nolan Cohn, RD, CDN, a New York based dietitian, says keeping blood-sugar levels stable by not overindulging in sweets and highly-refined simple carbohydrates helps to stabilize blood-sugar levels that in turn help to regulate neurotransmitter secretions. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, men should consume 38 grams of fiber a day and women should get 25 grams a day.

Fruit

fruit to improve mood

A review of studies published in the journal Nutrition examined the correlation between high fruit consumption and depression. The review showed a strong relationship between eating a lot of fruit and lower incidence of feeling depressed. This is believed due to the high levels of macro and micronutrients, including vitamins and minerals contained in most fruits.

Consuming a wide variety of fruits, especially bananas and blueberries, is ideal. Bananas are sweet and healthful treat that have been shown to increase feelings of “happiness.” A study published by the US National Library of Medicine, “Effects of Acute Blueberry Flavonoids on Mood in Children and Young Adults,” show blueberries to have potential benefits for improving attitude. The USDA recommends people try to eat about two cups of fruit a day.

Vegetables

Going for a carrot, instead of a chocolate-chip cookie, when you are feeling down may not be your first thought. However, the science says root vegetables and greens are the better choice. Jacka points out that the same research that links higher-fruit intake with improved disposition also suggests that increasing vegetable intake positively correlates with the same result. Leafy-green vegetables also have many amazing health benefits, as the plants are very high in crucial vitamins and minerals like calcium and folic acid. The American Dental Association also chimes in here, reporting that these nutrients are crucial for strong teeth and gums!

Fermented Foods

fermented foods improve mood

Rapidly emerging and expanding research in gut-health issues is suggesting diet choice is critical in maintaining the intestinal microbiota that appears to affect both health and behavior. Fermented foods like sauerkraut and certain yogurts are quality sources of these beneficial bacteria, known as probiotics.

Peas and Beans

peas and beans improve mood

A study published in The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging showed beans, peas and legumes are a large part of the Mediterranean diet and seem to play a role in helping to manage temperament. Peas and beans also help support a health gut by supplying prebiotics that sustain beneficial gut bacteria.

Hot Chocolate

hot chocolate improves mood

While the ADA may not be too crazy about this one, a study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology looked at the cognitive benefits of consuming one chocolate drink a day for one month. The study found people who drank coco had the highest boost in positive feelings, believed due to the polyphenol content in hot chocolate.

Coffee

coffee improves mood

The results of a dozen studies, reported in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, suggests that drinking just one cup of caffeinated coffee a day could boost both short- and long-term mood, The study showed that protection tops out at 400 milliliters, or about two cups, of coffee per day.

 

Are there specific foods that help your mood? Feel free to comment below!

Foods for Improved Memory, Focus, and Concentration

Foods for Improved Memory, Focus, and Concentration

It’s no secret that a healthy diet is the key to a fit body, but it’s surprising researchers to learn just how much the brain can benefit from the food we put in our bodies. In fact, this amazing organ that makes up only two percent of our body weight, but uses more than 20 percent of its energy may be suffering the consequences of modern diets that are high in processed foods and low in fresh fruits and vegetables.

Before reaching for a supplement that promises to improve memory and concentration, why not consider adding foods to your diet for a natural boost? Make these six delicious choices a part of your meal plan starting today.

Salmon

If it’s been a while since you’ve visited the fresh fish counter, now’s the time. Just two servings per week of fatty fish like salmon may reduce your risk of neurological disease. What salmon does that even fruits and vegetables can’t is provide large amounts of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA is an essential fatty acid that fortifies cell membranes, protecting fragile neurons from injury, reducing brain inflammation and helping the chemical neurotransmitters responsible for concentration and memory work more effectively.

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are brimming with vitamin E, an essential micronutrient that studies suggest can stem the tide of cognitive decline as we age. One ounce daily of nuts or seeds including walnuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds or their butters is all you need.

Blueberries

Blueberries are a superfood for your heart, so why not your head? Packed with stress-fighting antioxidants, they’re a top choice of nutritionists to combat inflammation that contributes to heart disease. Researchers are now focusing on animal studies that show the antioxidants in blueberries can slow the loss of memory and focus associated with dementia. Mix half a cup into your morning cereal in day or make a delectable smoothie.

Avocados

Bring on the guacamole! Avocados are proving to be almost as effective as blueberries in promoting optimal brain health. Dieters who have long avoided these fatty fruits to keep calories in check can relax knowing that the healthy monounsaturated fat they provide are the key to keeping arteries flexible, decreasing blood pressure and promoting healthy cerebral blood flow. If you’re watching your weight, as little as half an avocado is plenty. If it’s not your favorite taste, consider making salad dressings with avocado oil. It has a mild flavor and carries most of the same benefits.

Beans

Beans are humble, but boast an array of essential micronutrients and a high fiber content which helps control blood sugar. If you’ve ever had a burst of energy followed by a crash after turning to sweets for a mid-afternoon boost, you’ve experienced first-hand the effects of unregulated blood sugar. The two types of fiber in beans keep blood glucose on an even keel, and since glucose is your brain’s primary energy source, it helps maintain a steady dose of fuel.

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is lauded for many health benefits including its antioxidant properties that decrease inflammation and improve cerebral blood flow. It also contains natural stimulants including caffeine that can enhance focus and concentration. Like most foods or drink with caffeine however, more isn’t always better. A half-ounce of natural, high-quality dark chocolate provides the ideal benefits.

What are you waiting for? Take yourself to the gym, but your brain to the kitchen and treat yourself to a variety of foods that can give you a safe, natural cognitive boost.