Best Foods to Eat for Your Mood -- and a Few Bad Ones

Spinach, turkey, and walnuts top the list, while cupcakes and caffeine are some of the worst for your mood.
As Virginia Woolf once said: "You cannot think well, love well, sleep well if you have not eaten well". In fact, what we eat (and drink) affects more than just our waistlines and cholesterol levels. Even small decisions, such as what kind of lunch meat to put on your sandwich each day, can affect your disposition. Here's a roundup of mood-boosting foods, along with some mood swings to keep off your plate.
Mood enhancer: seafood
Lobsters, oysters, clams, and other marine animals are high in selenium, a mineral that helps fight mental decline, anxiety, and depression. Research suggests that selenium deficiency is linked to unfavorable mood states. The National Academies' Institute of Medicine Food and Nutrition Board recommends that men and women ages 14 and older consume 55 micrograms of selenium daily. In addition to seafood, selenium sources include Brazil nuts, seeds, lean meats, whole grains and low-fat dairy products, says registered nutritionist Keri Gans, author of "The Small Change Diet".
Mood enhancer: spinach
Although spinach may not produce Popeye-like muscles, the green-green vegetables can lift your spirits. Spinach is filled with folic acid, antioxidants, and magnesium, all of which are linked to a good mood. In one study, researchers found that people who were given the least amount of folic acid were 67% more likely to experience depression than those who were given the most. Two cups of spinach cover half of your daily folic acid requirement - so eat up. (The federal government recommends 400 micrograms daily.)
Mood Booster: Citrus Fruits and Red Grapes
Research suggests that plant-based foods that contain polyphenols - including citrus fruits and red grapes - may have protective effects on the body, says Maxine Smith, a clinical nutritionist at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Human Nutrition. "Consuming higher amounts of foods high in polyphenols can help lower your risk for depression and reduce depression," says Smith.
Mood enhancer: walnuts
Walnuts stand alone in a sea of ​​nuts. They're the only strain that provides a serious dose of omega-3 fatty acids, which help fight depression and improve mood. They also contain antioxidants and essential fatty acids that are beneficial for brain health. Research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in November 2020 suggests that eating walnuts may have anti-inflammatory benefits for the elderly. The study included 634 participants with a mean age of 69 years. Previous research suggests that walnuts have a positive impact on cognition. (Since 1 ounce of walnuts contains roughly 185 calories, avoid large servings.)
Mood Booster: Fermented Food
Yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi are some examples of spicy fermented foods that research has shown are linked to less anxiety, stress, and depression. "The fermentation process creates beneficial bacteria and yeasts that contribute to a healthy 'gut garden' that affects mood," says Smith.
Mood Booster: Turkey
Don't reserve a turkey for Thanksgiving: It's such a powerful mood booster that it deserves to be eaten year round, says registered nutritionist Elizabeth Somer, author of "Eat Your Way to Happiness." Turkey is loaded with tryptophan, a chemical that stimulates serotonin production and calms the brain. Insufficient serotonin can increase the likelihood of depression and other mood disorders. Turkey also packs protein to help you stay energetic and alert.
Mood Buster: Cupcakes
These treats may not be as cute as they look. A large serving of sugar and white flour, Gans says, will give you a cheap thrill when your blood sugar rises, followed by a moody, moody crash when it goes down. The same goes for donuts, cookies, and similar goodies that are high in sugar. Satisfy your sweet tooth with a fruit parfait or a piece of dark chocolate for dessert.
Mood Buster: Caffeine
You don't have to wipe out your coffee or soda supply, but moderation is key. Having more than two caffeinated drinks a day increases anxiety and tension and interferes with sleep, says Somer. If you're already feeling depressed, cut down on the caffeine from coffee, tea, chocolate, cocoa, and soda. Try water, herbal tea, or a fruit smoothie instead.
Mood Buster: Artificial Sweeteners
As alternatives to sugar, artificial sweeteners like sucralose, aspartame, and saccharin could sound healthier and save calories, says Smith. However, they cause havoc in the body's normal healthy use of sugar and carbohydrates. Research suggests that sugar substitutes are linked to unhealthy gut bacteria and a decrease in healthy gut bacteria. Experimenting with natural calorie-free sweeteners like stevia and monk fruit extract, or using molasses, maple syrup, or honey can add just the right amount of flavor in a healthier form.
To recap, here are six foods that are good for your mood and three that aren't:
These six foods are good for your mood:
- seafood.
-- Spinach.
- Citrus fruits and red grapes.
- walnuts
- Fermented foods.
-- Turkey.
These three foods are not good for your mood:
-- Cupcakes.
- caffeine.
- Artificial sweeteners.

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