It’s that time of year when we’re swapping swimwear for sweaters. The sun, a bronzed glow and sandy feet are all a distant memory, you won’t even remember what cold rosé tastes like.
It can be hard to feel motivated when the weather outside is unexpectedly chilly or rainy, and every day feels like the Monday blues as the sun sets earlier. A great place to improve your mood is through what you put on your plate. Certain foods can affect emotions on a chemical level. These foods are not only great for your overall health, but contain proven, evidence-based mood compounds that naturally improve your mood. That’s right—there are nutrients shown to reduce the risk of depression, and vitamins and minerals that stimulate neurotransmitter production. What you eat can really affect your mood, just like your body. Diet and mood work together; When we feel good, we want to look good and that starts with what we eat.
Dare I say eggs are really the most perfect food? They’re affordable, versatile, full of healthy fats and protein, and bursting with nutrients that can boost our mood. Egg yolks contain a nutrient called choline and certain amino acids, both of which help produce neurotransmitters that in turn improve mood. Turmeric also naturally contains vitamin D, which has been shown to help manage anxiety and depression. Last row? Definitely don’t throw away that egg yolk. Eat at least one egg every day to keep your mind and health fresh.
This incredible fish contains omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, both of which have been repeatedly shown to reduce symptoms of depression. A 3.5 ounce serving of wild salmon contains 124% of the daily value of vitamin D. Salmon is bursting with vitamin B12 and the amino acid tryptophan, both of which help produce brain chemicals that create a happy state of mind. Aim to have salmon on your plate at least twice a week. Tip: Canned wild salmon is extremely affordable, shelf stable and just as great a choice as its fresh counterpart.
3. BELL PEPPERS
Did you know that one bell pepper contains 169% of the RDI amount for vitamin C, making it practically the best source of vitamin C? Foods rich in vitamin C can help produce endorphins, the same feel-good hormones that are released after hard work. Also, fall and winter are typically peak cold and flu season, so all that vitamin C will not only help your mood, but also boost your immune system. A pepper a day keeps MD at bay.
Eating chocolate alone makes you feel good because it’s so rich and delicious. Serotonin levels increase with cacao concentration, so dark chocolate (70% or more), or raw cacao gives you the highest effect. In chocolate, this benefit is more than the harm side. Avoid chocolate to keep your health and mind.
About 90% of the receptors for the happy hormone serotonin are located in the gut. Yogurt is one of the best sources of probiotics, the good bacteria that help our microbiome create a healthy environment to produce lots of serotonin! Bonus: Drink Greek yogurt, which has about three times the protein of regular yogurt. Double bonus: sprinkle chia seeds into your yogurt for a boost of omega 3s and gut-friendly fiber. Any food that promotes smooth digestion will positively affect how you feel.
6. DRAK, LEAFY GREENS
Dark, leafy greens like kale, spinach, Swiss chard and even broccoli are essentially nature’s multivitamins. In the context of good food and good mood, this vegetable contains the magic mineral magnesium. Magnesium positively affects serotonin levels in the body. In fact, studies show that patients with decreased serotonin levels have magnesium deficiency, as well as increased anxiety and depression. But almost half of America is deficient in magnesium! A great way to start growing early is to add an extra handful of these dark leafy gems to your diet each day.