Food for the mood

Top 7 Foods That Brighten Your Mood

Food for the mood

You already know that the food you eat each day plays a vital role in your overall health, but did you know that it can affect your mood too? Making healthier choices in your diet will not only help control your waistline, but it can also help lift your mood, and provide a long-lasting boost in energy and focus.

Since your brain is always working, it requires the right brain-boosting food with specific vitamins and high-quality nutrients to use as fuel throughout the day. The fuel we choose to eat can greatly affect our mood, energy, and our brain’s overall performance.

Our brains produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps calm and soothe us, giving us a more relaxed, cheerful mood.

We recommend not only adding the best foods for good moods to your diet, but also incorporating natural supplements BrainMD’s Serotonin Mood Support.

These natural supplements can help ease anxiety, maintain a healthy mood and self-confidence, and can even help sustain deep sleep, a healthy appetite, and social engagement.

7 Foods to Eat for a Brighter Mood

Here are seven mood-boosting foods that you should add to your next grocery list:

1. Berries

Blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries are all high in vitamin C, which helps cope with cortisol, a hormone that is released during times of stress.

2. Beans

Black beans, lentils, and lima beans are all rich in magnesium, a mineral that functions to provide relaxation and calm.

3. Dark Chocolate

Chocolate is one of the ultimate comfort foods. The very taste of chocolate can produce a near euphoric state in many people. Brain healthy dark chocolate is full of protein and fiber and supports a positive mood and healthy cognition.

4. Fish

Mackerel, salmon, sardines, and trout all have high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which can alleviate anxiety.

5. Herbal Teas

Many herbal teas, such as chamomile, have calming properties. Black, green, white and red (rooibos) teas are also rich in antioxidants. Drinking a cup of warm tea can relieve stress and lift the spirits.

6. Leafy Greens

Kale is loaded with mood-moderating magnesium and raw spinach contains bliss-enhancing nutrients.

7. Whole Fruits

Apples, bananas, and oranges are packed with fiber and vitamin C. The sweet tastes and aromatic smells of these fruits can brighten one’s outlook and promote well-being.

Foods to Avoid

If you struggle with drastic changes in your mood and energy levels often, it can be helpful to avoid certain foods and beverages that can trigger mood swings. Here are some foods and beverages to avoid:

  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Sugar
  • Breads
  • Pasta
  • Potatoes
  • White Rice

As with any changes in diet, it is important to introduce new foods gradually to allow your body to adjust to a new routine and ensure that you do not have any food allergies.

You will be amazed at the abundance of energy and the lifted moods these healthful foods will provide.

Remember, fuel your brain with these key nutrients and supplements to support stress and mood and you will be feeling your best in no time!

For more information about our focus and attention products, and our full catalog of supplements, please visit us at BrainMD.


Foods to Uplift Your Mood

Food for the mood

From the WebMD Archives

No matter what challenges your day brings, it's easier to face the world when your spirits are high. And it's hard to be in a good mood when you're feeling hungry or if your body is lacking key nutrients.

But can eating certain foods really help keep bad moods at bay? The scientific community still has much to learn about how our diet influences our moods. While we don't have the whole story yet, we certainly have some clues.

Basically, the science of how food affects our moods is this equation: Dietary changes bring about changes in our brain structure, chemistry, and physiology, which lead to — changes in behavior!

Studies have shown there are quite a few things we can do, food-wise, to help stabilize our moods. I've listed some of them below. I advise following as many of these suggestions as possible so that you have all your food/mood ducks in a row. These suggestions offer many other health benefits, too, so you have nothing to lose.

1. Go fish! Work more omega-3 fatty acids into your meals. These are found in fish and some plant foods as well. Researchers have noted that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids may be mood stabilizers, playing a role in mental well-being.

A recent study in New Zealand found that fish consumption was linked to better mental health (as reported by the participants) — even after the researchers allowed for other factors that could influence the results.

Among new mothers, another study found that lower levels of fish consumption, along with lower levels of DHA (the omega-3 fatty acid found in fish) in breast milk, tended to be linked to higher rates of postpartum depression.

Eating plant foods rich in omega-3s is also probably a good idea. A good source of this nutrient is ground flaxseed (1 tablespoon a day is considered a safe, effective dose for most people; check with your doctor if you are pregnant, nursing, or have any concerns). Other sources include canola oil, purslane (an herb), cauliflower, red kidney beans, and broccoli.

2. Eat a balanced breakfast. Include lots of fiber, nutrients, some lean protein, and good (unsaturated) fats to balance out your whole-grain carbohydrates every single morning.

Regularly eating breakfast leads to improved mood, according to some researchers — along with better memory, more energy throughout the day, and feelings of calmness.

3. Eat more selenium-rich foods. Selenium is a mineral the brain can count on. Five studies have reported that low selenium intake is linked to poorer moods. Although the cause is unclear, researchers have some clues.

The way the brain metabolizes selenium differs from other organs: When there's a deficiency of selenium, the brain retains this mineral to a greater extent — leading some researchers to believe that it plays an important role in the brain.

Top selenium-rich foods (not including organ meats, which are also shockingly high in cholesterol) include: Brazil nuts, oysters, albacore tuna, clams, sardines, pork tenderloin, crab, saltwater and freshwater fish, whole-wheat and regular pastas, lean pork chops, chicken (dark and light meat), lean lamb, sunflower seeds, whole-wheat bread, plain bagels, brown rice, oatmeal, flour tortillas, soynuts, eggs, low-fat cottage cheese, tofu, pinto beans, and low-fat yogurt.

4. If you are overweight, lose weight slowly but surely. Some researchers advise that slow weight loss in overweight women can help to elevate mood. Fad dieting isn't the answer, though. Depriving yourself of calories and carbohydrates can bring on irritability.

5. Boost your serotonin levels. Serotonin — a chemical I fondly call the “feel-good” neurotransmitter — communicates “happy” messages to your brain.

Basically, the more serotonin circulating in your bloodstream, the better your mood.

Quick, pass the serotonin! The other side to this coin is that low levels of serotonin can lower mood and increase aggression, according to some studies.

There are several components of food that may influence the serotonin levels in our brains, including:

  • Tryptophan. As more of the amino acid tryptophan enters the brain, more mood-improving serotonin is made in the brain. Tryptophan is in almost all protein-rich foods, but the way to get more of it is not necessarily to eat these foods. Other amino acids are better at getting into the brain from the bloodstream. Eating carbohydrates seems to help tryptophan's chances of crossing the blood/brain barrier.
  • Carbohydrates. The carbohydrate-serotonin connection can be a double-edged sword. We do need carbs, especially those that come with lots of fiber and other nutrients — whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables. But Judith Wurtman, PhD, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher who is an expert on food and mood, suspects many women learn to overeat carbohydrates (particularly snack foods) to make themselves feel better. Of course, this leads to weight gain. Some researchers think carbohydrate-rich meals affect our moods in other ways, perhaps because of comforting feelings and memories we associate with eating these foods as children.
  • Folic acid (folate). Too little folic acid in our diets can cause lower levels of serotonin in our brains. Some studies suggest that taking folate supplements (there's a day's supply in most multivitamins) and eating folate-rich foods may help some people who suffer from depression. Folate-rich foods include spinach, green soybeans, lentils, romaine lettuce, pinto beans, black beans, navy beans, kidney beans, broccoli, asparagus, greens, orange juice, beets, papaya, Brussels sprouts, and tofu.
  • Alcohol. You don't have to be an expert to deduce that alcohol is probably not a mood stabilizer and that you should avoid excessive amounts in the interest of discouraging low moods. But there is also scientific evidence pointing to a relationship between serotonin dysfunction, negative moods, and excessive alcohol.

Editor's Note: If you have persistent depression, don't rely on food to improve your mood. Seek medical help from a professional such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, or social worker.

If you're not sure where to turn, ask your doctor for a referral. Check your employee benefits for something called the Employee Assistance Plan, which offers free counseling.

Keep in mind that depression is more treatable now than ever before, thanks to progress in medications and counseling techniques.

SOURCES: Mayo Clinic Women's Health Source, June 2002. The Lancet, Dec. 7, 2002. Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research, December 1998; vol 31(12): pp 1517-27. Public Health Nutrition, June 2002; vol 5(3): pp 427-31. Journal of Affective Disorders, May 2002; vol 69 (1-3): pp 15-29.

Nutritional Neuroscience, December 2002; vol 5(6): pp 363-74. The Medical Journal of Australia, Nov. 6, 2000; vol 173 Suppl: pp S104-5. Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, July 1991; vol 69(7): pp 893-903. Obesity Research, November 1995; vol 3 Suppl 4: pp 477S-480S. Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research, April 2001; vol 25(4): pp 487-95.

Gavin Lambert, Baker Research Institute, Melbourne, Australia.

© 2007 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved.


10 Foods To Suit Your Mood |

Food for the mood

Healthy Mind

Whether you want to enhance a good mood or fend off a bad one, choosing your food carefully can help. To find a food to suit every mood, check out these 10 emotions and their accompanying snacks.

Whether you want to enhance a good mood or fend off a bad one, choosing your food carefully can help. To find a food to suit every mood, check out these 10 emotions and their accompanying snacks.

If you’re feeling in need of a happiness boost, try upping your intake of oily fish to boost your brain health and mood. Oily fish is not only rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which can help ward off depression, negativity and mood swings, but wild salmon and tuna are good sources of vitamin B12, which helps to regulate the mood.

Many people suffer from phobias, ranging from the common ( acrophobia – fear of heights) to the obscure ( arachibutyrophobia). However, it may be that your diet is to blame. Research suggests that folate deficiency may be behind irrational fears and anxiety, so try upping your intake of folate – as well as mood-boosting Omega-3 – by snacking on avocado.

Next time you feel a rage coming on, try reaching for some nuts and seeds to help calm you down.

Research has shown that Omega-3 deficiency can contribute to aggressive behavior of adult offenders and children with severe behavioural difficulties, while a Japanese study has suggested that zinc may ease anger in women.

To up your intake of these nutrients, try opting for walnuts and flaxseeds, which contain both zinc and Omega-3 fatty acids.

Got a big date coming up and want to get in the mood? Try some foods rich in zinc to stimulate the libido and enhance desire. While oysters are a famous aphrodisiac due to their high quantities of zinc, if you’re not a fan of the slimy mollusc, try opting for shellfish, pine nuts or pumpkin seeds instead.

We all need a confidence boost from time to time, and luckily you can get a helping hand from your diet to relieve shyness. Researchers at McGill University in Montreal found that foods containing tryptophan (an essential amino acid) make people feel more confident. Good sources of tryptophan include meat (particularly chicken), fish such as salmon and tuna, and legumes.

Many people find themselves reaching for chocolate in the face of heartbreak, and this may be no bad thing. Chocolate contains many chemicals to beat the breakup blues, including relaxing magnesium, calming anandamide and mood-boosting phenylethylamine. Try snacking on dark chocolate (in moderation!) for the most health benefits.

If you’ve got a big interview or presentation coming up, try replacing your morning coffee (which can make you jittery) with a calming herbal tea. The calming effects of chamomile are so powerful that they have been found to reduce symptoms of mild to moderate generalised anxiety disorder, so try a cup of chamomile tea to help calm those last-minute nerves.

Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed by a busy day or are finding it difficult to wind down after work, try snacking on some blueberries to help cope with stress. Blueberries are high in vitamin C, which can help the body deal with high levels of stress. Also, the superfruit is packed with antioxidants which help to protect your body from its effects.

If you’re feeling confused, unfocused, forgetful, or your mind is just running slow, give your brain a boost with a cup of green tea.

As around 80 per cent of the brain is made up of water, drinking any fluids will help keep it hydrated and functioning at optimum levels.

However, green tea also helps maintain alertness by regulating blood sugar levels, and helps protect the brain and cut risk of dementia.

Whether you’re suffering from a lack of sleep or are generally feeling lethargic, drinking beetroot juice could help revive your energy levels. Beetroot has a high sugar content and many energising nutrients such as magnesium and vitamin C. Furthermore, researchers at the University of Exeter found that drinking beetroot juice could enable people to exercise for up to 16 per cent longer.

Healthy Mind

Want to live a life free of regrets? To start making the most of life and working towards a happier, guilt-free future, check out these seven ways to banish regrets.

Want to live a life free of regrets? To start making the most of life and working towards a happier, guilt-free future, check out these seven ways to banish regrets.

Make amends

If regrets and bad decisions have been playing on your mind, it may be that you need to take responsibility for your mistake and make amends in some way in order to help you move on.

Perhaps you have said something you now regret, cheated on an ex partner or hurt somebody’s feelings.

If you feel that someone else has been badly affected by your decisions, it’s time to bite the bullet and try to make amends, starting with a heartfelt apology.

Learn from your mistakes

While you can’t change the past, you can certainly learn from it. Instead of looking at past errors in judgement as disastrous mistakes, try viewing them as learning opportunities which will help you to make better decisions in the future.

Reflect on what you have learned from your mistakes, such as the importance of making the most of opportunities, what your priorities are, and any weaknesses that you need to address (such as a fear of failure or lack of confidence in your decisions).

Rather than dwelling on your regrets, use them to equip you for future success.

Reflect on your successes

Rather than focusing on your perceived ‘failures’, try spending some time reflecting on your achievements in life.

According to research we find it more difficult to recall good memories than bad ones, which may be why we spend much more of our time regretting our mistakes than we do celebrating our successes.

Next time regrets enter your head, try replacing them with the memory of an achievement or proud moment in your life. You could even prepare a list of these in advance to choose from, or put together a photo album to flick through of all your proudest moments.

Count your blessings

Just as we tend to focus more on our mistakes and regretful moments than we do on our happier times, we often tend to over-exaggerate these moments by fixating on all the negative side-effects of our mistakes – whether real or imagined.

Rather than focusing on the negative ways in which situations have impacted on your life, try to focus on all the things in your life you are thankful for and remember that all of your experiences – both good and bad – are what made you into the person you are today, living the life you are currently leading.

Achieve a life-long goal

Whether you feel frustrated by the way your life has gone so far or disappointed in yourself over past mistakes, there is nothing to help you overcome these feelings setting – and achieving – a goal that means something to you.

Rather than regretting what has happened in the past, set about paving the way to a better future by working towards something life-changing – whether it is helping a good cause, improving your job prospects or strengthening your relationships with those you care about.

Striving towards an important goal will not only restore your confidence in yourself and your satisfaction in life, it will also mean you are far too busy to dwell on any pointless regrets!

Remember that nobody’s perfect

We are often our own worst critics, which is why we find it hard to move on and forgive ourselves when things go wrong.

Instead of beating yourself up over past mistakes and bad decisions, remember that nobody is perfect and everybody has faced failure or disappointment at some point in their lives – even the world’s most successful people.

 Next time you’re dwelling on regrets, try opening up to those you care about and you will no doubt find that you are not the only one who has felt the way you do now. When it comes to having regrets, we have all been there; it is part of being human.

Press the ‘off’ switch on your memories

We all have things in our lives that we wish had gone differently. However, while some of us choose to move on from our mistakes, others remain stuck in the past, mentally replaying their regrets over and over.

If you fall into the latter category ask yourself the following question: is devoting all this time to your regrets benefitting your life? You will probably find the answer is no. Going over your regrets will not change what has happened; it will only ruin your present happiness.

Make amends and try to learn from your mistakes, then press the ‘off’ switch on those memories and devote your energy instead to moving forward.


7 Foods That Improve Mood and Fight Depression

Food for the mood

Brandon Dimcheff/Moment/Getty Images

If you sometimes indulge in sweets when stressed or upset, you know how immediately satisfying they can be. But all too often, they result in a quick blood sugar crash and irritability. Just as some foods can have a negative effect on your outlook, recent research explores whether eating certain foods can improve your mood and well-being.

Here's a look at specific foods and eating habits that may help boost your mood:

Growing evidence suggests that omega-3 fatty acids (abundant in oily fish such as sardines, salmon, and mackerel) may have a role in brain functioning, with deficiencies in omega-3 fatty acids linked to mental health problems.

In a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, for instance, researchers analyzed 26 previously published studies (involving 150,278 participants) that examined the association between fish consumption and the risk of depression. In their analysis of results, the study authors found that people who consumed the most fish were less ly to have depression symptoms.

While this association doesn't prove causality, it suggests that rigorous clinical trials are needed to explore the role of omega-3 fatty acids in depression and mental health.

  • To increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, consume foods such as:
  • Wild Alaskan salmon
  • Sardines
  • Anchovies
  • Mackerel
  • Other oily fish
  • Walnuts
  • Flax and chia seeds
  • Canola oil
  • Purslane (an herb)

In addition to whole foods, good sources of omega-3s are fish oil, flaxseed oil, and echium oil, but it's a good idea to check with your healthcare provider first if you are pregnant, nursing, take medication, or have any concerns.

Probiotics are best known for their role in digestive health, but emerging research suggests that bacteria in the gut sends and receives signals to the brain (known as the gut-brain axis).

 In a review published in Annals of General Psychiatry in 2017, researchers analyzed 10 previously published studies and found that the majority of studies found positive effects of probiotics on depression symptoms.

 While promising, the study's authors noted a wide variation in probiotic strain, dose, and treatment duration, and that further studies were needed to test efficacy.

Consumption of a probiotic supplement was found to improve both gut symptoms and depression in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), according to a study published in Gastroenterology in 2017. Participants took either a probiotic supplement (Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001) or a placebo daily for 10 weeks.

After six weeks, 64 percent of those taking the probiotic had decreased depression symptoms, compared to 32 percent of those taking the placebo. What's more, the improvement in depression symptoms was associated with changes in the activity in brain areas involved in mood.

Increase your intake of probiotics with foods including:

  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Buttermilk
  • Sauerkraut
  • Korean kimchi
  • Miso
  • Tempeh
  • Pickled vegetables

Take note, however, that it is possible for someone who is immunocompromised to contract an infection—fungemia or bacteremia—from probiotic supplements. Talk to your doctor before starting a course of probiotics.

Whole grains are important sources of B vitamins, nutrients vital for brain health.

For example, thiamin (vitamin B1) is involved in turning glucose into energy, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) is needed to produce the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (involved in learning and memory), vitamin B6 helps to convert the amino acid tryptophan into serotonin, and vitamin B12 is involved in the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, among others, all of which help to regulate mood.

Look for grains in their whole form, such as:

  • Steel-cut oatmeal
  • Quinoa
  • Brown rice
  • Amaranth
  • Millet
  • Bulgur
  • Wild rice

Whole grain foods can be confusing. A rule of thumb when reading food labels is that for every 5 grams of carbohydrate, a product should have at least one gram of dietary fiber to be considered whole grain.

Eating breakfast regularly is associated with fewer depressive symptoms, according to some researchers. A 2017 study published in Appetite, for instance, analyzed the survey responses of 207,710 people aged 20 years and over and found that those who said they ate breakfast “seldom” or “sometimes” had higher depressive symptoms than those who ate breakfast “always.”

While the association doesn't prove that the depressive symptoms were caused by skipping breakfast, it suggests a possible role of regular breakfast on mood that should be explored further.

Choose foods rich in fiber, nutrients, and good fats. Oatmeal is rich in soluble fiber, which helps to smooth out blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of sugar into the blood. Try a bowl of steel-cut oats. Other breakfast foods to include are citrus fruits, strawberries, apples, whole grains, and nuts. 

Spinach and other green vegetables contain the B vitamin folate. Although the connection isn't fully understood, low folate levels have been consistently associated with depression in research.

A study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research in 2017, for instance, analyzed previous studies and found that people with depression had lower blood levels of folate and lower dietary intake of folate compared to those without depression.

Folate deficiency may impair the metabolism of serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline (neurotransmitters important for mood), but further research is needed to understand the role of folate in depression and mental health.

Several studies have found that greater vegetable and fruit consumption is associated with a decreased risk of depression. One study published in 2017 found that a beverage made from wild blueberries increased positive mood in children and young adults.

Folate-rich vegetables include:

  • Spinach
  • Edamame
  • Artichokes
  • Okra
  • Turnip greens
  • Lentils
  • Avocado
  • Broccoli

Folate is also plentiful in beans and lentils, with a cup of cooked lentils providing 90 percent of the recommended daily allowance.

Don't take folic acid supplements without consulting your health care provider. In some cases, it may cause adverse effects and there are potential risks for some people (such as those who have had colon polyps or cancer).

Caffeine has been found to trigger the release of brain chemicals such as dopamine, which is important for performance and mood. A study published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research in 2016, for instance, analyzed 12 previously published studies and concluded that coffee consumption (and to a lesser extent, tea) had a protective effect on the risk of depression.

In the study above, the intake that had the greatest effect was 400 mL of coffee (approximately 1 2/3 cups) per day.

Caffeine affects everyone differently, so if coffee makes you jittery, irritable, sad, sleepless, or brings on other adverse effects, avoid drinking it (opting for caffeine-free beverages rooibos tea) or choose lower-caffeine beverages black tea or green tea.

Another option is chai. An Indian tea made with black tea plus the addition of spices such as cardamom and cinnamon, chai's spices add a natural sweetness to the tea, which may help you cut back on sugar and sweeteners.

Known as the sunshine vitamin, this nutrient is made naturally in the body when skin is exposed to the sun's ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. In the past few years, research has suggested that vitamin D may increase the levels of serotonin, one of the key neurotransmitters influencing our mood, and that deficiency may be linked with mood disorders, particularly seasonal affective disorder.

In addition, preliminary research suggests that vitamin D deficiency is a risk factor for depression in older adults.

Some people are at greater risk for a vitamin D deficiency. Darker skin, for instance, has more melanin, a substance that blocks ultraviolet rays. Working indoors during the day, living further from the equator, or being in an area with greater air pollution also increase your risk of vitamin D deficiency.

Canned salmon with bones is rich in vitamin D and is also a source of omega-3 fatty acids. Look for Alaskan pink salmon or sockeye salmon with bones. Other foods include:

  • Cheese
  • Egg yolks
  • Foods that may be fortified with vitamin D (milk, soy milk, and orange juice)

Small dietary changes can make a big difference in how you feel over time. While the research on food and mood is in the early stages, many of these foods can keep you healthy for other reasons.

It may be tempting to use food to treat anxiety or depression, but more research is needed from large-scale clinical trials. If you have depression or any condition, it's important to seek help from your health care provider.


16 Mood-Boosting Foods | Improve Your Mood With Foods

Food for the mood

We all feel blue from time to time, and food can play an important role in helping us lift our mood and improve our outlook on life. Open up the fridge and poke through the pantry, where you’ll find a wide array of mood boosting foods that are healthful, satisfying and delicious.

Before we get into the specific mood-boosting foods below, there are a couple of key dietary strategies to help you improve and balance your mood with food:

  • Balance blood sugar levels. Skipping meals, eating erratically or eating sugary meals and snacks can send our blood sugar levels whack. This leads to an imbalance of hormones – including stress hormones – and can make us irritable, cranky or ‘hangry’. Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, is linked to depression and anxiety. Consuming complex carbohydrates, protein, fat and fibre with each meal and snack will help your blood sugar levels stay on track.
  • Consume good fats. Fats are essential to the nervous system. Our brains our about 60% fat and good fats help support brain function and integrity, aid the production of neurotransmitters and reduce inflammation. Learn more about the best fats and oils for health here, and discover the dangerous side of vegetable oils.
  • Eat your amino acids (protein). Certain amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein, are the precursors to brain neurotransmitters that help balance and better our mood. These 21 ways to get more protein in your diet can certainly help you!
  • Get the B vitamins. The spectrum of B vitamins help soothe stress and support the nervous system. Many of the B vitamins are also co-factors in aiding brain health and formulating neurotransmitters. B vitamins can be found in many vegetables, dark leafy greens, and gluten-free whole grains.

What If I’m Not in the Mood to Cook Mood Boosting Foods?

If you’re down in the dumps, you may not feel whipping up mood boosting foods from scratch, or even have the energy to do so. Here are some suggestions to help you make your mood-boosting foods a reality.

  • Take advantage of the good times and meal prep. When you’re feeling able, batch cook a few items that you can leave in the freezer for your future self. One pot meals soup or chili are great options, as you can make them in big batches and portion them in the freezer. You could also bake a batch of muffins, prep some smoothie kits, or make other recipes you enjoy eating. Learn all of our tricks to batch cooking in this guide.
  • Start a mood-boosting cooking cooperative. Get collaborative by joining or starting a cooking cooperative. That way, you only need to make one dish but get to take home multiple goodies – plus you get the social benefits of hanging out with your friends.
  • Purchase time-saving tools or equipment that will ease the burden. Appliances slow cookers and Instant Pots can help shoulder some of the workload; yes, you’ll still need to do some prep, but once that’s done meals come together easily.
  • Make it simple. You don’t need to spend hours cooking mood boosting foods to reap the benefits. Blend up a smoothie, have some avocado toast or cook a veggie omelette if that’s what appeals to you.
  • Remember you are doing the best you can. Try not to be too hard on yourself. Cook when you’re able and try to make good store-bought choices when you aren’t up to the task.


Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are highly anti-inflammatory. Omega-3s, particularly EPA and DHA, are crucial for brain and nervous system development.

They have been shown to ward off depression – studies indicate communities where people consume more fatty fish are less ly to experience anxiety and depression, plus they can even affect our personalities and impulse control.

Aside from the omega-3s, salmon is also high in protein, Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D. Vitamin B12 works in concert with folate to help convert amino acids into neurotransmitters (depressed patients tend to have low levels of both), while Vitamin D deficiency is linked to depression.

Dark Leafy Greens

These are rich in a wide variety of nutrients, including fibre to balance blood sugar, B vitamins to boost brain function, and iron. Evidence indicates that iron deficiency is linked to altered emotional behaviour, anxiety and the disruption of neurotransmitters.

Iron (and B vitamins) also help us produce energy, and more energy may lead us to feeling positive and bolster our ability to participate in the activities we enjoy.

 Too much iron in the brain, however, can also impair neurotransmitters – it’s a Goldilocks situation where you get your iron levels ‘just right’.

So grab a bunch of spinach, kale, collards, Swiss chard, mizuna, mustard greens, dandelion, or whichever dark leafy greens you enjoy, and try different ways to add them to your diet.


Chia seeds are a plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids, and they contain a wealth of additional nutrients protein, fibre, calcium and iron. This mood boosting food is also a good source of magnesium, nature’s relaxant mineral, and it can help reduce stress and anxiety.

These little seeds are very versatile in a culinary nutrition context:


Turkey is rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that helps us produce the mood-boosting neurotransmitter serotonin. Low levels of tryptophan can lead to lower serotonin production and an increase in anxiety or depressive symptoms, while diets high in tryptophan reduce depression and irritability. It also has tyrosine, another amino acid that is a precursor to brain neurotransmitters.

But that’s not all – turkey contains a multitude of B vitamins – including B6 and B12, and the mineral zinc. A zinc deficiency is associated with mood disorders  anxiety and depression.


Photo: Candra Reynolds

These little but mighty pulses provide a good supply of folate, a B vitamin that helps develop the nervous system. Folate deficiency is associated with depression, and adding more of it to your diet can help boost your mood.

They are also high in fibre for blood sugar control, iron, protein and Vitamin B6; the latter helps our bodies make mood-boosting neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. Low levels of Vitamin B 6 are associated with depression.


One of our favourite mood boosting foods, eggs are high in protein, Vitamin D and B12.

They have a payload of choline, a nutrient that supports the nervous system, improves mood and helps produce neurotransmitters, as well as the antioxidant selenium.

Since the brain is more vulnerable oxidative damage, consuming antioxidant foods can help protect and preserve the brain (and our positive mood in the process).

Eggs are easy to make and transport when you’re on the go, and there are a ton of ways you can consume them:


A fatty fish that is filled with mood boosters: it contains sky-high levels of Vitamin B12, as well as omega-3s, selenium, protein, Vitamin D and choline.

Mash them up with lemon, parsley and sea salt, make a veggie + sardine hash, or chop them up into gluten-free flatbreads.


A nutritious fat with an ultra-creamy texture, avocados have Vitamin B6, fibre, Vitamin E and Vitamin C. They also contain Vitamin B5, which helps synthesize neurotransmitters and supports the adrenal glands.

Bell Peppers

Beautiful bell peppers are high in the antioxidant Vitamin C, which can help with neurotransmitter function and improve cognition. Vitamin C therapies have been shown to improve mood and reduce distress.

Fermented Foods

Photo: Meghan Telpner

A wealth of research points to the important link between the gut and the brain. About 95% of serotonin is produced in the digestive tract, and that means making gut health a priority will help to improve our mood. Scientists are also investigating the connections between gut bacteria and mood/conginition. A few meta-analyses concluded that probiotics can help alleviate depression.

Fermented foods, from kombucha to sauerkraut to dairy-free yogurt, are a fantastic source of probiotics. It’s easy to make them at home and they’re one of our go-to mood boosting foods, and they’re also great for supporting immunity.


This mood boosting food is a great go-to for protein (including tyrosine for neurotransmitter production), magnesium, fibre and Vitamin E. As an antioxidant, Vitamin E can help combat free radical damage in the brain and has been shown to improve memory and cognition.

Have them on their own as a snack, incorporate them into trail mix or granola, make your own dairy-free almond milk, or use the almond pulp in a variety of delicious ways.


Photo: Jennifer Barr

Yesssssssss. Chocolate makes you happy! It contains a number of potent compounds such as phenylethylamine, which boosts endorphins, and ananadamide, otherwise known as ‘the bliss chemical’.

Studies on chocolate show that it can improve mood and cognition, plus it’s a rich source of antioxidants, iron and magnesium to help us relax.

Evidence indicates that chocolate is particularly helpful when eaten mindfully – so don’t gobble it all down, savour it instead.

Grab chocolate inspiration in these posts:

Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds are a good source of Vitamin E, Vitamin B6 and magnesium. They’re a great option for those with nut allergies – you can easily swap ground sunflower seeds or sunflower seed butter whenever nuts are called for. Learn how to make your own sunflower seed butter here (you can also infuse it with dark chocolate for an extra mood boost!).

Sweet Potato

Photo: Abigail Hopkins

Sweet potatoes contain an abundance of mood boosters Vitamin B6 (as well as other B vitamins), Vitamin C and fibre. And there are so many ways to eat them:

  • have them plain, either steamed or roasted
  • drizzle them with coconut oil, nut butter and cinnamon
  • make them into chips for a snack
  • add them to salads
  • use them in stews and soups
  • make sweet potato ‘toast’
  • incorporate sweet potatoes into smoothies and baking
  • throw them in the Instant Pot
  • stuff them with chili, curry, sauteed ground meat or beans


Ghee, or clarified butter, is chock-full of nutritious fats and Vitamin D, plus it helps to heal the digestive tract, which can lead to better digestion and the beneficial gut bacteria that supports our mood. Learn how to make your own ghee at home.

Culinary Adaptogens

Adaptogens are plants that help us adapt to mental, emotional and physical stress. Get our complete guide to using culinary adaptogens, as well as our 20 favourite herbs for tea-making.

By incorporating these mood boosting foods into your menu planning, you just might find yourself finding your day a little bit brighter.

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7 Foods to Boost Your Mood

Food for the mood

Talk about food for thought. Growing research shows that simply making changes in what you eat can significantly boost mood and improve symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Pictured Recipe: Chocolate-Covered Prosecco Strawberries

In a recent clinical study known as the SMILES trial, researchers split nearly 70 people-all diagnosed with depression, and all on poor diets-into two groups.

The first group had no form of therapy but switched to a healthy, Mediterranean-style diet rich in fruits, vegetables, olive oil, low-fat dairy, fish, eggs, seeds and nuts.

The second group met regularly with a support group and continued to chow down on sweets, processed deli meats and salty snacks.

After three months, the healthy eaters showed fewer symptoms of depression than the second group. In fact, more than a third of them no longer even met the criteria for being depressed.

Want to see what the right foods can do for your mood and mental health? The seven foods below have all been shown to help ease stress, improve mood, relieve anxiety or help fight depression. See what a difference they can make for you.

1. Chocolate

Pictured Recipe: Mug Brownie

Finally, science backs up what many of us already know: chocolate does make you happy. In a study done at the Nestlé Research Center in Switzerland, researchers found that eating a little dark chocolate (1.

4 ounces of it, to be exact) every day for two weeks reduced the levels of cortisol and other stress hormones in people who were highly stressed. Experts say it could be thanks to the antioxidants found in dark chocolate. So go ahead! Indulge.

Just be sure to account for the 200-plus calories in that tasty chunk of chocolate-or you may soon start stressing over extra pounds.

Related: Healthy Chocolate Desserts

2. Salmon

Picture Recipe: Roasted Salmon with Smoky Chickpeas & Greens

Good news for worrywarts: Regularly eating salmon-and mackerel, tuna, herring and other fatty fish-can help lower anxiety, research shows.

Experts say it's because of their omega-3 fatty acids, a key mood-boosting nutrient and one our bodies don't produce. Omega-3s alter brain chemicals linked with mood-specifically dopamine and serotonin.

In one randomized, controlled study, medical students who took omega-3 supplements before an exam reduced their anxiety symptoms by as much as 20 percent.

Related: Healthy Salmon Recipes

3. Green Tea

Pictured Recipe: Matcha Green Tea Latte

On a bad day, sipping a cup of tea can be just the thing to soothe your senses, calm your nerves and brighten a dark mood. Make that green tea and you may reap even more benefits, researchers say.

According to a Japanese study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, drinking two to three cups of green tea a day was linked to reduced depression symptoms in elderly people. That may be due to a number of mood-boosting nutrients, including L-theanine, an amino acid that helps fight anxiety.

Green tea also has some caffeine-enough for a pick-me-up when you're feeling down, but not enough to give you the jitters.

Related: Healthy Recipes With Green Tea

4. Oysters

Pictured Recipe: Spicy Barbecued Oysters

Sure, oysters have a reputation as an aphrodisiac. But their mood-boosting benefits go well beyond the bedroom. Oysters are high in zinc, a nutrient that helps ease anxiety. Zinc also helps improve sleep quality, essential for staying on an even keel. Bonus: Once you get the hang of it, eating oysters can be fun-and an instant mood-lifter in itself.

Not into seafood? Get your zinc fix with cashews, eggs, liver or beef.

Related: Healthy Oyster Recipes

5. Blueberries

Pictured Recipe: Purple Fruit Salad

With more antioxidants than any other common fruit or vegetable, blueberries deliver a bushel of brain-boosting benefits.

Thanks mostly to a type of antioxidant called flavonoids, blueberries help regulate mood, improve memory and protect the brain from aging. And some experts say they may do even more.

One recent animal study suggests the anti-inflammatory chemicals in blueberries may be helpful in treating PTSD and other serious mental health problems.

Related: Our Best Healthy Blueberry Recipes

6. Spinach & Other Leafy Greens

Pictured Recipe: Spring Vegetable Lasagna

Nearly half of all Americans don't get enough magnesium, a mineral that, among other things, helps reduce anxiety. Dark leafy greens spinach and Swiss chard are loaded with it-so eating them is an easy way to get your daily vegetables and boost your brain health, too. More good sources: beans and lentils, almonds and avocados.

Related: 5 Reasons to Love Dark Leafy Greens

7. Yogurt & Other Probiotics

Pictured Recipe: Rainbow Yogurt Bowl

There's lots of buzz these days about probiotics-fermented foods yogurt, kimchi and sauerkraut that help keep your gut bacteria in check. Recent studies in both animals and humans suggest links between balanced gut bacteria and better mood, less stress and anxiety, and lower risk of depression.

Still, some experts caution that it's too soon to tell for sure. A recent review of 10 small but solid studies found that eating probiotics for depression and anxiety seemed to help some folks, but not others. The bottom line? Slurping a refreshing yogurt smoothie now and then won't hurt your moods-and it may help.

Watch: Foods That Help Make You Happy

Original reporting by Brierley Wright, M.S. R.D.