What if we told you that you could boost your mood just by eating certain foods? Well, it’s true. We teamed up with celebrity nutritionist Paula Simpson to find out which foods are scientifically proven to work toward making you feel happier.
“Magnesium is a mineral that can boost your mood by increasing energy production and also stimulating the production of serotonin, one of the brain’s feel-good chemicals,” Simpson explains. While she says that pumpkin seeds offer the richest source of magnesium, other good mood-boosting options include almonds, sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts, cashews, pine nuts, flaxseed and pecans.
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Omega-3 Fatty Acids
“Essential fatty acids—including omega-3 fatty acids—play many roles in the body, including proper nerve and brain function,” Simpson says. She explains that there have been several studies on the usage of omega-3 fatty acids in treating depression, and that the best sources include high-fat cold-water fish. Not a fish eater? Simpson says you can also get the right ratio of these acids in plant-based foods such as flax, chia or hemp seeds.
“Folate helps the body create new cells and supports serotonin regulation,” says Simpson. “Serotonin passes messages between nerve cells and helps the brain manage a variety of functions from determining mood to regulating social behavior.” Excellent sources of folate include spinach, parsley, beets, asparagus, romaine lettuce and lentils. Even better, Simpson says that spinach is also naturally rich in magnesium to calm your mood and reduce stress.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
“Some research suggests that pyridoxine supplementation alone, or in combination with high doses of other B vitamins may help with depression,” Simpson says. “Pyridoxine helps increase the ‘calming’ neurochemical, serotonin, and gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) levels in the blood. Vitamin B6 is one of several B vitamins required for proper production of messaging molecules in our nervous system and brain, called neurotransmitters, and the three key neurotransmitters—namely GABA, dopamine and serotonin—all require vitamin B6 for synthesis. Excellent sources of B6 include bell peppers, turnip greens and spinach.”
“Chromium plays an important role in increasing the brains’ level of serotonin, norepinephrine, and melatonin, which help the brain regulate emotion and mood,” Simpson explains. “Because chromium works directly with the brain’s mood regulators, it’s been found to be an effective treatment of depression.” For the best chromium sources, Simpson suggests broccoli, grape juice, potatoes and turkey breast.