How to eat foods to control moods and depression
5 Good-Mood Foods
When stress and worry bog you down, you can reverse a bad moodby piling the right foods on your plate—or in your cup. Case in point: new research in the journalNeuropsychopharmacologydiscovered that just the taste of beer alone was enough to trigger the release of dopamine—a “feel good” neurotransmitter—in the brains of study participants. (And it had nothing to do with the alcohol, say researchers.)
Beyond booze, a whole host of foods can make or break your happiness. “Foods are chemicals. Because these chemicals resemble the ones found in our brains, they have a powerful impact on our mindset,” says Gary Wenk, PhD, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Ohio State University and author ofYour Brain on Food. That’s also why we can become addicted to food just like we can be addicted to drugs, he says.
It’s best to fill up on healthy, wholesome fare rather than the comfort foods you may crave when times get tough (doughnuts, anyone?). “These can lead to a worse crash later on that leaves us sleepy and irritable,” says Lisa DeFazio, a registered dietitian based in Los Angeles. In fact, research inPublic Health Nutritionshows that people who indulge in junk food often (particularly fast food or packaged baked goods) are 51% more likely to develop depression than those who rarely or never eat it.
That’s why we’re here with five foods to eat—and feel good about. Grab these when you’re feeling low:
Coffee Drinking four or more cups of coffee a day was associated with a 20% lower risk of depression in women, according to 2011 research in theArchives of Internal Medicine. The perk-you-up-power lies in caffeine, which may also activate serotonin and dopamine release in the brain.
Nuts Protein-rich foods like nuts are high in tryptophan, an amino acid that aids in serotonin production, says DeFazio. One serving of nuts (one ounce) offers a good protein punch: try cashews (five grams of protein), dry roasted pistachios (six grams), and almonds (six grams).
Salad Want to tap into your inner Pollyanna? Fill up on at least three servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Per a 2013 study inPsychosomatic Medicine, optimistic people had 13% higher carotenoid levels in their blood (an antioxidant particularly abundant in sweet potatoes and carrots) than those with a more negative outlook. Spice up your veggies with these 5 Ways To Make Vegetables Taste Amazing.
Lentils Eating more than 240 mcg of folate a day leads to a 78% lower likelihood of developing depression, according to a 2012 study from Japanese researchers. Find 358 mcg of this B vitamin in one cup of cooked lentils, 134 mcg in a half-cup of cooked asparagus, or 161 mcg in a cup of canned chickpeas. (Try our recipe for Simmered Lentils ready in 30 minutes!)
Chocolate A recent UK study found that people who consumed a dark chocolate drink daily for a month reported feeling more calm and content than a placebo group, thanks to the antioxidant polyphenols in cocoa. Healthy or not, dark chocolate still packs calories, so stick to a one-ounce 150-calorie serving a day.
Video: Top 5 Foods to Increase Focus & Boost Mood- Thomas DeLauer
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