If we are what we eat and food is medicine, why aren’t there more happy foods stocks skyrocketing? It must be something between tasting good versus making you feel good! Well, we can have the best of both worlds. Food that makes us feel on top of the world doesn’t have to taste as bland as a beets. Let’s dive in, starting with the tastiest!
Packed with tons of antioxidants and a high percentage of cacao, your mood and your taste buds will thank you with the subtle sweetness of this rich comfort food. Increasing higher percentages of cacao (up to 90%) will net you more phenylalanine which helps production of the feel good chemicals in the brain like dopamin. It’s recommended to use at least 70% to possibly help ward of those depression symptoms. Just don’t overdo it though, chocolate still has calories. Didn’t mean to burst your bubble there.
What better way to throw a swift boot at bad mood than by having serotonin directly with walnuts? As a dietary source of serotonin, another one of the feel good chemicals in the brain, you can have it anytime with an ounce handful or weave it into that recipe you’ve been dying to try. The awesome thing with magnesium in walnuts is that it normalizes your mood by helping with regulation of blood glucose levels. Throw it in your oatmeal, salads, or stir-fries for a nutty good time.
It’s been scientifically proven that omega-3 fatty acids in salmon can help fight depression. Of the types, EPA and DHA are the most helpful which can be usually be found in fatty fishes. These fatty acids help increase serotonin levels in the brain. The sunshine vitamin, D, also knocks out some of the depression and seasonal downs. Pan-seared filets with wedges of lemon and pepper makes all those fatty acids go down easy too!
It’s no mystery that most food coming from the sea is healthy for you including fishes, seaweed, and also oysters. Besides having zinc, which helps calms your body, oysters can create feelings of being in love with it’s exceptional aphrodisiac properties. Zinc in your body can be drained with stress so need to be replenished accordingly. With summer just right around the corner, it’s a perfect time for some brews and oysters coupled with lemons. Unfortunately, beer is not on this list of happy foods which you would have guessed that it would be.
What’s another easy way to add to your existing dishes? Turmeric with its luscious golden color can add a much-needed vibrant tinge to your dish as well as providing you with the mood defender called curcumin. With many dishes from Asia, this spice has been used in many ways for it’s miraculous (not a real miracle by the way) properties to help fight depression. This yellow spice can beef up your meats, soups, or beverages and your happy state at the same time.
A personal favorite of many, berries add a special flavor of happiness to our desserts as well as salads. You probably didn’t know that certain berries have chemical similarities with valproic acid, commonly found in prescription mood drugs. These chemicals help to regular our moods. Throwing together a berry salad with raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries with your favorite yogurt can make a delicious snack or dessert anytime. Minimal prep and cleanup complete with the good feels? Sign me up.
Probably everyone’s favorite daily go-to, coffee has caffeine to help give you that pep in your step. Consumption has been linked to lower levels of depression since it gives you the power to get things done. Even a little swig before your workout can give your sesh that extra “OOPMH”. Even the mere smell of coffee in the morning can give you the wake-up to tackle the challenges of the day.
Pronounce keen-hwa, this rice substitute can make you keen on quitting white rice altogether. Packed with quercetin which has been shown to have antidepressant effects, this food is a great staple to any recipe such as the other food on our list, salmon. Quinoa is super tasty and doesn’t need a whole lot of flavoring either!
Potassium-rich bananas also contain magnesium and vitamin B6 in a quick, portable snack. The precursor, vitamin B6, is a building block for serotonin and dopamine. This is one happy food that everyone is likely already consuming but there’s always room for creativity. Slicing them up to put in a fruit salad or making a soy milk smoothie with moringa, peanut butter, whey protein, and ice cubes can make it fun!
No list is complete without the addition of spinach with its high amounts of iron and folate. Folate deficiency has been linked to depression in clinical studies. This is a necessary precursor again to build those mood-regulating chemicals in our brain. Popeye the sailor clearly knew what was going on with every can of spinach that he consumed!
Now you have some happy food knowledge in your repertoire to combat those nasty mood swings and raise yourself up to cloud 9. This list was not exhaustive but can be a great launching point. Take care of yourself and fill your body with the good stuff. Life is about happiness after all!