Good Mood Foods: What to Eat to Feel Fantastic

Ice cream sundaes, macaroni and cheese, brownies, mashed potatoes—they’re all delectable comfort foods that can pick you up when you’re having a bad day. It makes sense: Carbohydrates help boost production of serotonin, which makes you feel happy. But while pasta and cookies might make you feel good, they’re also high in calories and are easy to over-indulge in. A better idea: these healthier mood-lifting foods.

  1. Berries: Certain chemicals in raspberries, blueberries and blackberries mimic a prescription drug called valproic acid, which has a positive impact on your mood. Add some to your yogurt or oatmeal or just snack on them—they’re delicious cleaned and straight out of the carton!
  2. Leafy Greens: Vegetables like kale and spinach are full of mood- and energy-boosting vitamins and minerals. One in particular, folate, is known to regulate the production of serotonin (a mood-boosting chemical in the brain), which helps keep feelings of sadness and anxiety at bay.
  3. Fatty Fish: Salmon, rainbow trout and other fatty fish have lots of omega-3s, which can help ease depression symptoms. They do this by supporting the production of mood-boosting chemicals like serotonin and dopamine in the brain. These healthy fats also help improve circulation and reduce inflammation—helping you feel on you’re A-game physically and mentally.
  4. Nuts and Seeds: Similar to fatty fish, walnuts and flax seeds contain helpful omega-3 fatty acids. They also contain high levels of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which reduces depression-causing inflammation and increases the happy chemicals, dopamine and serotonin. It’s important to keep track of calories, though, as they add up quickly with nuts.
  5. Dark chocolate: Chocoholics, rejoice! In addition to its palate-pleasing flavor, dark chocolate can help release serotonin. It also relaxes the blood vessels of the cardiovascular system, reducing the kind of inflammation that’s tied to depression. Dark chocolate also reduces the stress hormone cortisol, keeping you in a more relaxed, pleasant mood. It is calorie-dense, though, so a small piece should do the trick.

Photo Credit: A Healthier Michigan

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  1. As a retired nurse I greatly appreciate reading healthy and nurtritious information that you share with retirees on an ongoing basis. When I go to my community meetings I share the valuable health information with other members to aid in building a healthier society. Thank You!

  2. All good info that is widely available but it would be good to know how much of these foods to eat to get the benefits. E.g. Will one meal of salmon a day/week/mon to do the trick? Is farm raised better/worse than wild caught and why? What if I reach for nuts every time I would prefer a cookie? Are there disadvantages of eating too many berries at one time? Etc. Etc. Etc.

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