Ready for a healthy refresh? Add these mood-boosting foods to your meals to support balanced, nutritional living for you and your family.
Fermented foods are packed with probiotics, or live microorganisms. Why is this important? Microbes produce tryptophan, the “building block” for the feel-good transmitter serotonin, explains Megan Mullins, a licensed clinical professional counselor, certified personal trainer and nutrition specialist.
Eating a variety of produce supports those probiotics found in the aforementioned foods, but it also offers multiple other benefits. For instance, studies show that berries are high in anthocyanins, antioxidants that trigger neurological responses that may improve mood and cognition. Meanwhile, bananas are high in vitamin B6, which helps synthesize neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin.
These plant-based powerhouses are high in protein, healthy fat, fiber and tryptophan. Try almonds, cashews, peanuts, walnuts and sunflower seeds. If you’re stressed, rely on healthy proteins—eggs, lean meat—to avoid mood-altering blood sugar spikes, says Kim Furtado, N.D., a Lewes-based naturopathic provider. Eat 15 grams of protein when awake and 15 to 20 grams every three hours.
Fish oil benefits brain health, says Uday Jani, M.D., an internal medicine specialist in Milton. “The brain has to have fat.” Since our bodies can’t make omega-3, we must consume it. Salmon and albacore tuna are excellent sources.
Dark chocolate contains N-acylethanolamine, chemically similar to cannabinoids, and flavonoids, which reduce inflammation and promote brain health. Chocolate also delivers the pleasure factor, but stick to small squares with at least 70% cocoa solids to reap the benefits.