By Kate Phillips with Wendy Bazilian from Golden Door
As I write this, the January sky is a dreary gray, readying itself to turn dark all too early (and making me sleepy in the process!). Wintery weather mix coupled with the end of holiday glumness that seem to linger for months can make it difficult to stay cheerful all season. But before sounding too grouchy, we’re helping you boost your mood and lift dampened spirits with eight foods said to beat anxiety, depression and the like.
“Life is good, but it can also be a challenging and intense at times when some of us are under stress and suffering a bit of the blues,” says Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, RD, author of The SuperFoodsRx Diet and nutrition advisor at Golden Door Spa. “Here are eight uplifting foods to help boost your mood and improve your health, too.”
Snack on some of “Dr. Wendy’s Healthy Foods for a Healthy Mood”:
- Chamomile has been used for millennia for its calming, soothing and comforting effects.
- Green tea, in addition to being high in antioxidants, has another compound, theanine, that may promote calm or relaxation and has been shown to have an impact on the alpha brainwaves. More research needs to be done, it may also help in reducing stress. Some initial research has shown that green tea may help reduce cortisol, the stress hormone that contributes to putting on belly fat.
- Just two eggs give you an entire daily quota of vitamin B12, a nutrient that’s crucial to your brain’s supply of good-mood chemicals.
- Of course, a good amount of protein for energy is the egg white and yolk, but egg yolks also have choline to boost brain health—it’s a key component of an important neurotransmitter that carries messages from and to nerves and between nerves and muscles (and also reduces inflammation).
- Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin C and beta-carotene, and also lutein/zeaxanthin.
- When it comes to our mood, low folate levels have been associated with an increased risk of depression and higher levels of folate with lower depression, according to some studies. Spinach is chockfull of folate, as is asparagus, oranges and other fruits and vegetables.
- Double benefits here: Walnuts are rich in the plant-form of omega-3 fats playing that role again in maintaining a healthy brain, in the formation of neurotransmitters and health messages between our nerves.
- Anti-inflammatory to our brain and our body, and, along with cherries, are one of the only researched food sources of melatonin for healthy sleep—which helps a healthy mood.
Oysters (and other sources of zinc)
- You get more zinc from six oysters than you need in a day in order to fuel your production of testosterone, the hormone that keeps both men and women in the mood for love. Oysters are also a storehouse of dopamine, the brain’s pleasure chemical.
- One medium oyster has 8.3 mg zinc, just more than the recommended daily amount for women!
- A standard order of oysters provides 4-5 times your daily needs!
- Recommended daily amount: 11 mg/day for men; 8 mg/day for women
- If oysters aren’t your thing, other food sources of zinc include meat, poultry, fish and dairy, like yogurt and low-fat milk
- We get happy just thinking about chocolate. About an ounce of 70 percent or higher dark chocolate may be just enough to release the feel-good brain chemical serotonin.
Spices to Spice Up the New Year
- Yellow curry: Turmeric (a key spice in yellow curry) has anti-inflammatory properties that may help promote brain health. Emerging research suggests compounds in turmeric may help preserve memory, too, and that’s something to feel good about.
- Cinnamon: Compounds in cinnamon have been shown to help regulate blood sugar to beat those midafternoon blues or big swings that sometimes occur around 3:30 or 4 p.m. If you get a little moody or irritable midafternoon, a smart snack (like dried cherries and walnuts or even a glass of low-fat milk) can help give you the energy boost you need. As well, incorporating cinnamon in a variety of ways may help you manage your blood sugar over time.
Wild or Craft-Raised Salmon (mackerel and herring, too)
- Omega-3 fats play a role in brain health and the development of neuronal connections and formation of neurotransmitters. Salmon has anti-inflammatory compounds—among them, the omega-3 fats—that help with overall health and may reduce joint pains and other muscle pain that makes us move less and irritable.
- Omega-3s can help ease the wear and tear on a tired body—and help our brains and preserve our memory over time.
You might also like:
Cleanse & Renew: 7 Detox Juice & Smoothies
4 Elegant & Low-Calorie Appetizers from Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa
How to Get the Most Out of Your Resolutions for the New Year
Top 5 Healthy Eating Apps
How Weight Loss Affects Not Just the Body, But Mind
Images courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons: tea (dimitri fedorov); spinach (woodleywonderworks); oysters (julesjulesjules m); chocolate (net_efekt)