Food is often something people turn to for comfort, but often the foods that we eat negatively impact our mood due to the copious amounts of sugar and calories in them. While indulging once in a while isn’t bad, there are plenty of healthier alternatives to comfort food that will improve your mood rather than be a temporary relief. Research shows that there’s a correlation between nutrition and mental health. Though many other factors can impact your mood (such as your environment, stress level, and more), eating foods that are proven to help mood disorders and brain health is beneficial to everyone’s overall state of being.
Here are just a few to consider when your spirits are down.
Salmon and albacore tuna are fatty fish that have an abundance of omega-3 acids. These are essential to a healthy diet because the human body can’t produce omega-3 acids on its own. They’re rich in two specific types of omega-3: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), both of which are linked to helping with depression. Additionally, omega-3s play a role in brain development and cell signaling.
Experts recommend that most adults should have 250-500mg of combined EPA and DHA per day, and since a 3.5 ounce serving of salmon has 2,260mg of these acids, eating fatty fish a few times a week is an easy way to include this in your diet.
Eating healthy doesn’t necessarily mean giving up chocolate! Though still a high-calorie food, chocolate has many components that will boost your mood. Sugar, for example, can quickly fuel your brain, and compounds like caffeine, theobromine, and N-acylethanolamine are feel-good substances linked to improving your mood considerably. Health-wise, chocolate has been proven to increase blood flow to your brain, reduce inflammation, and boost your brain’s health, all of which also affect your mood.
Milk chocolate has a lot of added sugar and fat, so opting for dark chocolate is a much better option. Despite the benefits, it’s wise to stick to one or two small squares at a time.
Bananas have high levels of B6, a vitamin that helps synthesize feel-good chemicals in your brain such as dopamine and serotonin. Likewise, one large banana (136g) has 16g of sugar and 3.5g of fiber. This is a good thing because when paired with fiber, sugar is released into the bloodstream more slowly, which allows for stable blood sugar levels and better mood control. When your blood sugar is too low, you can become irritable and get mood swings. They also have prebiotics, a type of fiber that feeds the healthy bacteria that resides in your gut. All of this works together to maintain your blood sugar levels and stabilize your mood.