Good Mood Foods – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
All of us crave junk food at one point or another. We are all human and the thought of picking up a “fast food” meal of a burger, chips and soda is sometimes just a really easy option. This kind of food hits all the right pleasure centers straight away, but shortly after your body will crave more sugar. Your body also requires nutritious food and there are no healthy nutrients found in “fast-food”. Very importantly, this kind of food affects your mood in a negative way making you lethargic and moody. It really helps to eat a diet that will put you in a great mood, ready to face the day’s challenges with the right attitude.
According to Mayo Clinic, there is a big connection to food and mood. Magnesium, folate and other B vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, tryptophan and chocolate have all been studied to assess their impact on mood.
According to Examine.com, Magnesium is a dietary mineral. With regards to developed countries, Magnesium deficiencies are the second most common deficiency after vitamin D.
Magnesium is responsible for activating over 300 enzyme reactions within the body. This translates to thousands of biochemical reactions happening consistently and daily. Magnesium is vital with regards to nerve transmission, blood coagulation, muscle contraction, energy production, bone and cell formation as well as energy production.
These are the top 10 foods highest in Magnesium:
- Nuts & Seeds such as almonds and pumpkin seeds
- Dark Leafy Greens, such as spinach
- Beans & Lentils such as soy beans
- Fish such as mackerel and tuna
- Whole grains such as quinoa and brown rice
- Low Fat Dairy such as non-fat yogurt
- Dried Fruit such as figs and dates
- Dark Chocolate
Folic acid, which is the synthetic form of folate, is an exceptionally essential B-vitamin (B9) mostly well known for its role in preventing neural tube defects in infants. It supports general health but is not recommended in high amounts. Very importantly, folate helps the body create new cells and supports serotonin regulation.
Folate is a B-vitamin found in many foods. Folate is needed in our bodies to make DNA and other genetic material. The body also needs folate for its cells to divide.
There is a form of folate called folic acid which is found in dietary supplements and fortified foods.
These are the top 10 foods highest in folate:
- Beans such as black eyed peas
- Asparagus (cooked)
- Lettuce (Cos or Romaine)
- Tropical fruit such as mango, pomegranate and papaya
- Bread (wheat bread)
- Broccoli (cooked)
Other B Vitamins are also essential to a good mood including vitamin B6 found in beef liver and other organ meats as well as fish, potatoes and other starchy vegetables, and fruit (not the citrus variety) and B12 found in milk products, cheese, eggs, fish, meat, shellfish as well as poultry. Food fortified with B12 include some soy and rice beverages including soy-based meat substitutes.
Omega-3 fatty acids
According to Wikipedia, there is evidence that shows a link between omega-3 fatty acids and mental health, especially when connected to conditions such as bipolar disorder and depression. The main reason being the fact that many of the products of the omega-3 synthesis pathway play vital roles in regulating inflammation such as prostaglandin E3 which have been linked to depression.
These are the top 10 foods highest in Omega-3 fatty acids:
- Flaxseed oil (cold pressed)
- Fish Oil such as salmon and sardines
- Fish Roe (Caviar)
- Fish such as herring and tuna
- Cured & Canned Fish such as smoked salmon and Mackerel
- Seafood such as oysters
- Walnuts & Walnut oil as well as Pecans, Pistachios and Macadamia nuts.
- Chia Seeds
- Spinach, brussel sprouts and broccoli
- Soybeans (roasted) and tofu
This health portal provides extra information with regards to your emotional well-being connected to food and nutrition so it’s worth it to take a look. I also recommend you take a look here for further investigation into mental health.
Tryptophan, also known as L-tryptophan, is an essential amino acid that acts like a natural mood regulator. It acts in such a way as it has the ability to assist the body in producing and balancing certain hormones naturally.
Ingesting tryptophan brings on natural, calming effects, fights anxiety, induces sleep and can also help burn more body fat, which is always a huge plus. Other amazing benefits include stimulating the release of growth hormones as well as reducing food cravings for carbohydrates. It has even been known to kick sugar addictions in certain cases.
These are the top 10 foods highest in Tryptophan:
- Seeds and Nuts such as pumpkin seeds and cashew nuts
- Cheese such as reduced fat mozzarella and parmesan
- Soya Foods such as roasted soybeans
- Shellfish such as crab and prawns
- Eggs (whole, including the yolk)
- Beans and lentils such as cooked white beans and cranberry beans
- Oat Bran (uncooked) and Wheat Germ
- Chicken & Turkey
- Fish such as tuna and haddock
- Lamb, Beef, Pork & Game
Finally, my favorite option of “good mood foods”. Over the past years there has been a rise in high quality chocolate manufacturers making dark chocolate varieties that are 70% cacao and up such as Lindt’s delicious Supreme Dark 90% Cacao. Many other brands have jumped on board offering an array of real dark chocolate that can be purchased at your closest supermarket. My only suggestion, because of the sugar and caffeine content, is to not go overboard and pace yourself through a slab even if it’s over a few days treating yourself here and there.
Dark chocolate is so great for your mood as it stimulates the production of endorphins which are the chemicals in the brain that bring on feelings of pleasure. Found within is the chemical serotonin, which naturally acts as an antidepressant.
These are the top 10 manufacturers of dark chocolate:
- Green & Black’s Organic (my personal favorite!)
- Cote D’or Dark
- Alter Eco
- Moser Roth
- Endangered Species (ethically traded cacao)
By now I’m sure your mouth is watering and your brain is fresh with ideas of recipes you can make fresh with ingredients high in Magnesium, Folate and other B-Vitamins, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Tryptophan and you can even finish off your meal with a beautiful dark chocolate dessert!