Home News For A Dose Of Positivity, Reach For These Mood-Enhancing Foods

For A Dose Of Positivity, Reach For These Mood-Enhancing Foods


A scoop of ice cream may seem like the salve to a cranky mood, but there are also a variety of more wholesome options to reach for when you’re in a funk. If you make the right selections, research shows that there are plenty of flavorful foods for boosting your mood—both in the moment and even down the road, if incorporated as a consistent go-to in your diet.

The Impact Of Eating Good Mood Foods

According to Harvard Medical School’s health blog, 90% of serotonin receptors are located in the gut. A study in the World Journal of Psychiatry reveals that foods such as leafy greens and peppers are high in depression-fighting nutrients such as iron, folate and vitamin B12. As we learn more about the mind-body connection, the more we should consider how certain foods can impact how we feel so we can better understand how to be happy.

That emotional impact isn’t always positive, however. While candy, cake and pizza might turbocharge energy levels, the effects are temporary and can often lead to irritability and fatigue. So what good mood foods can serve up more lasting positivity? Here, Kristen Gradney, a state policy representative for the Louisiana Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, offers a shortlist of healthy options.

Stick with salmon

Jam-packed with protein, vitamin B12, potassium and other nutrients like iron and vitamin D, salmon delivers plenty of health benefits. “Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which is good for a whole host of things,” Gradney says, from cognitive development and contributing to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease to minimizing the effects of heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammation-related conditions.

Quick tip: A low-maintenance option for busy families, salmon requires little more than cooking with a few simple ingredients, like garlic and olive oil, to make a flavorful meal.

Indulge in dark chocolate

A piece of dark chocolate a day keeps the doctor away—at least according to some experts. “Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants, which are good for heart health, brain health and preventing cancer,” says Gradney. Antioxidants work by neutralizing free radicals—destructive molecules that can contribute to heart disease and other ailments.

The best part: A little goes a long way. “You really don’t have to eat a whole lot of dark chocolate to experience its positive effects,” says Gradney. Some experts recommend a square or two a day to reap the benefits—which, along with antioxidants, also include iron and magnesium—without overloading on calories.

Quick tip: Select dark chocolate that contains at least 70% dark cacao solids.

Add in almonds

Lower in calories and higher in healthy fats, antioxidants and vitamins than most nuts, almonds are an easy pick-me-up any time of the day. In addition to being good for your body, the high levels of magnesium found in almonds may help raise your serotonin level, the body’s natural mood stabilizer, according to Healing Tree Wellness Center.

They also contain selenium—a mineral that the National Institutes of Health credits for playing a critical role in regulating thyroid hormones and supporting the immune system. Almonds are also easier on the waistline than many alternatives, shares Gradney: “The fat content of almonds is not as high as some other nuts, so they’re less likely to contribute to weight gain.”

Quick tip: Sprinkle a handful of raw or roasted almonds on a salad for added nutrition.

Seek out color-rich produce

“Eat your rainbow,” advises Gradney. “That strong blue color in blueberries, for example, gives us a good indication that they’re really rich in antioxidants,” which can help fight depression and protect your body from free radicals. In fact, WebMD reports that blueberries, commonly referred to as a “superfood,” not only contribute to lower risks of heart disease and cancer, but are also anti-inflammatory.

Equally as colorful—and mood-friendly—are leafy greens. Gradney shares that vegetables like spinach and kale, rich in vitamin K, lutein, folate and beta carotene, can help fight anemia and improve brain health.

Quick tip: Be sure to remove mold, bacteria and pesticides from berries, as well as dirt and grit from leafy greens, by washing your produce carefully before eating.

Pour a cup of green tea

In 2018, Americans consumed over 3.8 billion gallons of tea, 15% of which was green tea, reports the Tea Association of the USA. Indeed, green tea is experiencing a surge in popularity in Western culture as studies highlight its positive impact on everything from brain function to mood and anxiety issues.

Quick tip: Since green tea contains caffeine, avoid consuming it late in the evening as it can interfere with a good night’s sleep.

Instead of reaching for an unhealthy snack the next time you’re feeling down, consider opting for good mood foods such as almonds and dark chocolate to lift your spirits and contribute to long-lasting wellness and nutrition habits.