Feeling down and gloomy lately? Or maybe just not feeling yourself? Even though the weather is warming up, many of us are stuck inside, which can make us feel more tired and less productive. Plus, the lack of Vitamin D can have a negative impact on our moods.
The good news is, there are some great feel-good mood foods that are perfect for cooler temperatures or for when we can't get out as much as we'd like to. These are the new healthy comfort foods that you can enjoy as part of a healthy diet, that will help you feel better both physically and mentally.
8 Feel-Good Mood Foods
#1 Raw Cocoa
Looking for an excuse to eat chocolate? Here it is! Raw cocoa is considered a feel-good mood food for a couple of different reasons. For one, it just feels great to be able to enjoy a sweet treat without the guilt! Raw cocoa contains some pretty powerful antioxidants, and it has been shown to help keep your mind sharp and your mood calm and collected. The key is to stick with raw cocoa, or dark chocolate that is at least 70% or darker, and avoid added sugar or artificial ingredients.
Walnuts are an excellent source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, making them a great way to help support mood. In fact, omega-3’s have been shown to help combat symptoms of depression, and a study found that walnuts can be effective in improving overall mood. Not only that, but walnuts are also rich in folate, melatonin, and antioxidants which all play a role in supporting a better mood. Overall, walnuts are a great mood-boosting food that can be added to your diet by making a homemade trail mix or even adding them to a smoothie.
#3 Wild-Caught Salmon
Wild-caught salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids as well. The brain is made up of at least 60% fat, so it is critical that we feed our bodies the healthy fats they need to function optimally. When we deprive ourselves of healthy fat, it’s no wonder we feel a bit moody, and fatigued. When it comes to fish, just be sure to choose wild-caught to avoid possible toxins and mercury exposure.
Blueberries are a great brain- and mood-boosting food. Blueberries contain anthocyanin which is an antioxidant that can help reduce inflammation. Inflammation may contribute to depression, so consuming anti-inflammatory foods is only going to help support your overall mood and reduce your chances of developing depression. A study also found that consuming flavonoids, like the ones found in blueberries, is linked to a lower risk of depression. How cool is that? Plus… they’re delicious! Also try eating blueberries with an accompanying fat, like avocado or nuts, to amplify their benefits.
Eggs are another excellent mood-boosting food. Eggs are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and B-vitamins, both of which play an important role in our mood. Eggs also contain choline which is another amino acid that’s super important for brain health. Choline is important for optimal cognitive function. Not only that, but eggs are rich in protein and healthy fat, so adding them to your breakfast, or enjoying a hard-boiled egg for a snack will help stabilize your blood sugar, which is another vital part of balancing your mood. The trick here is to eat the entire egg as all of the nutrients are in the egg yolk.
Bananas are a rich source of tryptophan, an amino acid which is converted to serotonin—a hormone responsible for boosting mood. Tryptophan is known to help reduce symptoms of anxiety and even help improve sleep. Bananas are also the ideal on-the-go snack, making them a convenient mood-boosting food.
We have likely all experienced the sleepiness that comes after enjoying Turkey at Thanksgiving dinner. This is because turkey is also a source of tryptophan, an amino acid that plays a role in overall mood. Try adding turkey to homemade soups and stews, or enjoying turkey on a gluten-free wrap with fresh cranberry sauce and sliced avocado.
#8 Probiotic-Rich Foods & Vitamin D
While generally only seen as gut-boosting foods, probiotic-rich foods can also help improve our mood. Why? Because the gut-brain connection is a real thing! When there is gut imbalance, there can be mood alterations. To help support the healthy bacteria in the gut, try enjoying unsweetened coconut yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and kombucha. The boost in beneficial bacteria in the gut will help support a more positive mood.
Another great way to boost mood is to take 5,000 IU of plant-based Vitamin D3 daily. Not only does Vitamin D3 boost the immune system, it is also great for building muscle and bone health. Most Americans are deficient in Vitamin D, so adding it to your diet is a must.
If you are feeling doom and gloom lately, it’s time to take a look at your diet for answers. Stay away from sugar and limit saturated fat. Try including a few of these healthy, mood-boosting foods in your diet regularly to improve how you feel mentally. Try starting your day with one of these foods for a brain boost, and enjoy them throughout the day to keep your mood upbeat and positive, all while supporting overall health!