Did you know there’s such a thing as happy foods? It’s true! What you eat can have a positive impact on your mood and emotional well-being. In fact, feel-good hormones built by the body require certain nutrients that can only be obtained in the diet.
B vitamins play a significant role in mood regulation. B5, for example, is known as the anti-stress vitamin, and B6 is especially critical for helping to create serotonin, a feel good, antidepressant-like chemical. Luckily, B vitamins can be found in a wide range of foods including eggs, avocado, bananas, green veggies and nuts and seeds.
Omega-3s are healthy fats that can enhance mood, ease depression and improve sleep. Excellent sources: cold-water fish, such as salmon and herring, raw nuts and seeds (e.g. hemp hearts and chia seeds).
Phytochemicals (i.e. anthocyanin and quercetin) can also make us happy. Anthocyanin helps with the production of feel-good dopamine, and quercetin has been shown to have an anti-anxiety and anti-depression effect. Excellent sources: dark berries, green tea, citrus fruit, onions and green, leafy veggies.
Vitamin D plays an important role in regulating the activity of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin. We all need at least 20 minutes of direct sunlight daily to ensure we’re getting plenty of vitamin D. Excellent additional sources: egg yolks, mushrooms and fatty fish, such as sardines.
Protein is critical to mood because it provides amino acids, which are precursors to those important neurotransmitters associated with mood. For example, the amino acid tryptophan helps boost serotonin levels in the brain and the amino acid tyrosine increases the levels of feel-good dopamine and norepinephrine, both of which improve concentration and mental alertness. Excellent sources: chicken, turkey, eggs, walnuts, almonds, avocado, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, beans and lentils.
Bonus Nutrients: Magnesium, zinc, folic acid, vitamin C and flavonoids can also help elevate mood and lower stress levels. Excellent sources: fresh fruits and dark chocolate.
Want to impact your emotional health? Choose from our list of the top good-mood foods:
Drink yourself happy with this delicious green smoothie
½ cup frozen or fresh strawberries
½ cup frozen or fresh blueberries
2 cups fresh spinach
1 tbsp hemp hearts
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 ½ – 2 cups coconut milk, depending on how thick you like it
Blend all ingredients until smooth. Enjoy!