5 Foods to Boost Your Mood

Some foods can give us a natural lift. Learn how to incorporate them into your daily eating.

With the help of Dr. Drew Ramsey, author of the Recipe for Happiness blog and the books Fifty Shades of Kale and The Happiness Diet, we’re making eating happy simple. Here are Drew’s picks for the top five happiness-boosting foods you should add to your shopping cart on your next visit to the supermarket.

1. Kale

It’s the current darling of the nutrition scene, and it’s also one of the healthiest things you can put on your plate. Plus, this leafy green veggie can be prepared more ways than you ever dreamed possible. 

Why it makes you happy: Kale is packed with phytonutrients, plant-based molecules that help our brains, as well as folate, a vitamin often used as a supplement to treat depression.

How to work it into your life: Great news—kale isn’t just for salads anymore! Make fresh, crispy kale chips with your choice of seasonings, add it to a smoothie, even bake it into brownies! 

2. Seafood

Sure, you’ve heard that you need to eat wild-caught salmon, but there are many more options to fish around for. Mussels, clams and oysters are also great brain food, and if you must order pizza, make sure you add the anchovies. 

Why it makes you happy: Seafood is loaded with omega-3 fats, essential nutrients for many bodily functions but, in particular, it helps make us happy. However, fish brings a lot more than just fats to the table, including B-12, iodine, selenium and DHEA, all of which are vital for a healthy, happy brain.

How to work it into your life: Fish is a popular main course, but if you want to work your way into it, there are plenty of appetizers and hors d’oeuvres, from the classic (shrimp cocktail and steamed mussels) to the exotic (stuffed mushrooms with clams, red pepper and anchovies) that can help you diversify your palate.

3. Nuts

Nuts have finally gained a well-deserved reputation as sources of heart-healthy antioxidants and healthy fats. Just an ounce a day can help improve both your physical and mental health.

Why they make you happy: Almonds, pecans and walnuts are among the nuts that contain calcium, which can help offset hormonal imbalances in women as well as alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression, irritability and impaired memory. In 2012, a study published in the Journal of Proteome Research also linked them to higher serotonin levels, which make you feel calmer and happier.

How to work them into your life: By the handful! Eat them as a snack, toss them into your cereal and salads, or pair them with yogurt. You really can’t go wrong, so…go nuts!

4. Beans

They’re extremely versatile as well as an affordable way to keep your healthy eating on track. Whether you want them on the side or as a main course, you’re doing yourself a huge favor by working them into your list of favorite foods.

Why they make you happy: Beans are loaded with iron, a mineral that can boost both your mood and your energy levels. They’re also filled with phytonutrients, helping ward off disease and letting the body function properly, as well as essential folate and fiber. While blueberries are often heralded for their antioxidants, half a cup of red beans has 1 1⁄2 times the antioxidants of a cup of blueberries.

How to work them into your life: Sprinkle them on a salad, make bean dip, mix them with red pepper and eggs for a spicy Mexican dish, or add them to lasagna instead of meat. There are countless ways to befriend beans!

5. Eggs

These took a beating a few years ago and got a bad rap for their cholesterol content. But even the American Heart Association has backed away from that stance and agrees eggs are a great way to start the day. But these days, they aren’t just for breakfast.

Why they make you happy: Eggs deliver B-12, folate, protein and healthy fat—all of which are very important in terms of brain function. The yolk is packed with carotenoids, giving it its yellow color, and recent studies at Harvard have linked carotenoids to optimism.

How to work them into your life: Start the day with them scrambled, sunny-side-up or poached. Later, you can have them hard-boiled and tossed in a salad, stirred into noodle dishes like pad thai, or even blended into your smoothie.

From the June 2014 issue of Live Happy magazine.

 

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