Do you always feel like you’re waking up on the wrong side of the bed? A sour disposition can be blamed on a number of things, but it’s also possible that your unhappiness is a byproduct of your diet. Moods can be a reflection of our overall health, and an unhealthy diet can take its toll on our mental health—so naturally a healthy diet can improve our mood!
Certain vitamins and minerals play a key role in boosting happiness and improving our moods. Omega-3 fatty acids maintain good mental health by helping the brain more efficiently transport serotonin and dopamine. B vitamins, especially vitamins B12 and folate (B9), are also vital to good mental health as they help maintain healthy nerve cells and contribute to the production of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, which allows us to feel pleasure.
Bananas contain natural sugars to pep you up, protein to sustain your energy, and B vitamins to promote good mental health. Photo By Joe Lavine.
Blood sugar also affects your mood. If your blood sugar is stable, your mood is likely to follow suit. But if your blood sugar levels swing from high to low throughout the day, you’re probably in store for some mood swings as well! Eating regularly throughout the day (every four to five hours or so), avoiding refined sugars and carbohydrates, and choosing foods with fiber and protein will help stabilize your blood sugar.
For a better mood, try eating these five foods.
Bananas: This fruit has a lot going for it. Bananas stabilize blood sugar. The natural sugars in the banana will provide a quick energy boost, which the banana’s fiber will sustain throughout the day, preventing a spike and then a crash in your blood sugar levels. Bananas also contain B vitamins.
Try it: Because of their consistency, bananas make a good substitute for dairy in frozen treats. Indulge in a bowl of happiness with this recipe for Frozen Chocolate-Banana Smoothie.
Avocados: Like bananas, avocados can help regulate your blood sugar. Avocados also contain high amounts of folate, one of the B vitamins that promote mental health, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Try it: What better way to enjoy avocados than with a handful of chips and some fresh-made, authentic guacamole?
Walnuts are full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids! Photo By eliza/Courtesy Flickr.
Walnuts: Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids, folate and other B vitamins, and fiber and protein, which stabilize blood sugar.
Try it: Grab a handful of walnuts for a healthy snack!
Dark chocolate: It’s natural to reach for a piece of chocolate when you’re feeling stressed or depressed. Chocolate is a go-to mood-boosting food, and if it’s dark chocolate you’re reaching for, go for it! Small quantities of dark chocolate contain just enough sugar and caffeine to pep you up without causing a spike in your blood sugar. Letting that oh-so-delicious piece of chocolate melt in your mouth also triggers your brain to release feel-good chemicals such as serotonin and endorphins.
Try it: Dessert doesn’t have to be unhealthy! A whole-wheat crust and heart-healthy walnuts make this decadent Dark Chocolate Truffle Tart a healthy choice.
Eggs: Eggs are a good source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins and more.
Try it: If you don’t have time for a plate of scrambled eggs in the morning, cook up a batch of hard-boiled eggs to munch on as snacks during the week. Or, get a little fancy and make a quiche! This easy-to-make quiche recipe allows you to use whatever fresh herbs and vegetables you have on-hand.