It's back-to-school season. Chances are that you and/or your children may need some mood-boosting foods to combat the stress that getting back to routine may bring. I know I do. As a teacher who spent about eight weeks this summer without a strict routine, no alarm clock, and no work obligations (aside from some minor trainings that I could work into my schedule as I pleased), I could use a little boost in my mood. So here's a list of some top mood-boosting foods. Enjoy!
Salmon is known for its nutrient-density and high omega-3 content. Omega-3s are fatty acids that can help ward off anxiety and depression. They've also been shown to reduce the symptoms of ADD and ADHD in children. Another all-star nutrient in salmon is vitamin B12. This is an essential vitamin that is contained in salmon at nearly double the daily recommended value. B12 consumption has also been shown to help ward off anxiety and depression and reduce the symptoms of ADD and ADHD. Both of these nutrients are essential. So if you don't want to consume salmon, you may want to look into supplementing them or getting them from another food source. Grass-fed beef is another great source.
Eggs are a staple food, and a relatively cheap source of protein. They're full of the mood-boosting nutrient choline, which has been shown to increase neurotransmitter production and boost one's mood. They also contain some omega-3 fatty acids as well as zinc and magnesium for an added mood-boost. I always opt for organic, pasture raised eggs when possible. They can be consumed in many ways: scrambled for breakfast or hard-boiled for a quick protein-rich snack.
Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, arugula and chard, are packed with mood-boosting nutrients. One of the main ones is magnesium, which tends to be lacking in the standard American diet. Studies show that people with higher magnesium consumption are better able to handle stressful and anxious situations. Just remember to consume your leafy greens with a high quality fat so that your body can absorb all of the nutrients they contain.
Juicy, delicious watermelon packs a big mood-boosting punch with its high lycopene and water content. Staying hydrated is vital in maintaining a happy mood. And the lycopene, the antioxidant that gives watermelon flesh its red color, helps to combat inflammation, which is a major culprit in mood disorders.
Avocados have developed a reputation of being a millennial's favorite source of healthy fats. These fats are great for boosting moods. But the benefits of avocados doesn't end there. The various nutrients combined with the healthy fats help to boost hormone production as well. Healthy hormonal balance is needed to keep the mood stable. So if you want to be happy, eat some guacamole.
You may want to consider saving the seeds from your jack-o-lanterns this fall, because pumpkin seeds provide some great mood-boosting benefits. They're a good source of potassium, phosphorous, zinc, tryptophan, and magnesium. Magnesium is especially important for overall mood stabilization. Not enough of it in the diet can lead to anxiety, headaches, muscle aches, high blood pressure, nervousness, fatigue and insomnia. So definitely save those pumpkin seeds this fall. You can roast them and eat them plain, or mix them with other ingredients for a fall-themed trail mix.
Almonds contain a high amount of magnesium and vitamin E for some mood-boosting benefits. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that has been shown to improve focus and memory. Plus almonds are a good source of protein for a quick snack. And they contain a decent amount of fiber to help control blood sugar levels. Blood sugar regulation is a key player in keeping the mood stabilized.
Green tea contains antioxidants and nutrients that have been shown to improve brain health and mood disorders. Green tea also contains L-theanine, which is an amino acid that has been shown to fight anxiety and lower depressive symptoms. Teas have been used as a mood-boosting drink in Chinese medicine for centuries. This is a great alternative to coffee as well.
I don't know about you, but I never need another excuse to eat dark chocolate. I love this stuff! The reason I love it so much is because it makes me happy. It's full of nutrients such as flavanols, which can help to boost one's mood and promote clearer thinking. It's also good at promoting the release of endorphins, or feel-good-chemicals, and helps boost serotonin levels in the brain. Dark chocolate is also a source of magnesium, which is needed for many mood-boosting bodily functions. So eat up!