Felling a little blue? Eating nature’s healthiest and most nutritious foods might help! No food’s a miracle cure, of course, but a healthy diet full of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean protein can work wonders when it comes to filling you up, energizing your body, and just generally helping you feel your best.
To find out which foods are best to fill up on when feeling low, AMRAH consulted Stefani Sassos, MS, RDN, Good Housekeeping Institute (GHI)’s registered dietitian, as well as Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, the Nutrition Director at GHI, to identify 31 superfoods that are great for if you want a little extra mood boost. With a plenty of beneficial nutrients and health – promoting properties, these improve your mood – and an added bonus is that they test great, too, so you can totally get a delicious go – to snack and happiness boost in one!
Green tea isn’t just great for colds – this popular dring is also a great mood booster! According to Sassos, green tea contains antioxidant compounds that have cancer – fighting properties and can reduce the risk of other chronic diseases.
Red Bell Pepper
Did you know that red bell peppers actually pack with more Vitamin C than an orange? ‘They boast the most nutrition of all other bell peppers because they have been on the vine the longest’, explains Sassos. These low – calorie, nutrient – dense vegetables contain many vitamins and nutrients to improve your mood, making it an ultimate happy food.
Not there’s a reason to go nuts about walnuts: not only do these nuts make tasty, crunch – filled snack, they’re also on of the few plant sources for healthy omega – 3 fatty acids, a nutrient that’s beneficial for both the brain and the heart.
Move aside, yogurt: Kefir is the new it probiotic! This fermented milk drink is similar to yogurt and offers plenty of probiotic health benefits. ‘Replenishing the good bacteria in your gut by drinking kefir can help support digestion and even improve immunity’, notes Sassos.
Also known as ladies’ fingers or ochro, this green superfood is Sassos’ pick for a great veggie that’s low in calories and high in fiber – particularly heart – healthy soluble fiber. Additionally, okra is also rich in polyphenols, which are micronutrients found in many plant foods that can help your heart as well as fight inflammation.
Looking for an easy way to get your daily fix of plant – based protein? Try mixing flax into your morning smoothie or breakfast cereal. ‘Flaxseeds are packed with omega – 3 fatty acids, fiber, and lignans which are all nutrients recommended to improve heart healthy by the American Heart Association’, says Sassos.
Whether you like oats, wheat, corn or rice, a bowl of 100% whole – grain cereal provides you with a one – two combo of filling protein and fiber first thing in the morning – meaning you won’t feel hangry pre – lunch.
‘Soy – based foods are some of the best foods you can eat on the planet’, London says. ‘Soybeans provide a plant – based protein source; a slew of vitamins and minerals crucial for reducing risk of chronic disease; and fiber that helps you fill up and feel satisfied’.
Bananas for the win: The vitamin B6 in bananas may help prevent cognitive decline and reduce mood – related symptoms of PMS. Plus each one provides about 12% of your daily fiber needs for better digestion.
Research indicates that antioxidant – packed dark chocolate mai increase serotonin levels and protect against cognitive decline. (But you already knew that chocolate makes you happy, didn’t you?) ‘Having an ounce of chocolate per day, or about 150 to 200 calories has a number of different benefits’, Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN says. ‘While no food is a miracle – worker, I’m a huge proponent of treating yourself with chocolate daily’.
Whether you’re team peanut or team almond, it’s no secret that nutritionists love nuts. The energy – boosting protein and healthy fats in a 2 – tablespoon serving of nut butter can fill you up and stave off cravings for less nutritious foods.
Likewise, a handful of actual nuts can have the same effect. (And it’s less of mess if you’re on the go).
Not only is the perfect avocado toast visually pleasing to look at, but this fruit – yep, it’s a fruit – also packs tons of heart – healthy unsaturated fats, fiber, and phytochemicals (a.k.a. biologically active components in plants) for satiety and disease – fighting powers.
Consider that grilled fillet as brainfood. The crucial compound docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) found in salmon helps maintain the central nervous system, not to mention the beneficial effects this fish has on your heart and metabolism.
Don’t underestimate old – fashioned cottage cheese. The fresh curds provide tones of protein and tryptophan, an essential amino acid liked with improving mood and cognition in multiple research studies.
Plant – based protein wins yet. Tossed in spices and roasted in the oven, these little guys meet your crunchy, savory cravings while also providing the essential nutrients folate, manganese, and iron.
London especially likes spinach for its nitrate content, which can reduce cholesterol, and your risk of heart disease. Nitrates may also help improve athletic performance, so maybe try crushing a can like Popey, if you want a better morning sweat session.
Sweet Potato Fries
Fried in any from mean happiness, but the roasted sweet potato kind especially deserve a shout – out for their vitamin B6 content. It’s an essential coenzyme for cognitive development and you can find 15% of your daily value in one medium – sized spud.
Indulge your sweet tooth guilt – free by snacking on your favorite berries. One cup had 8 grams of fiber – a third of what you need in a day – and only 5 grams sugar. We know what we’re having for dessert tonight…
Can’t sleep? Try munching on an ounce of pistachios post – dinner. The protein, vitamin B6, and magnesium in these nuts can help get you in the state for better ZZZs and consequently feel more alert tomorrow.
You known it as the ultimate heart – healthy breakfast, but oatmeal’s soluble fiber will keep you fuller, longer. Plus the 8 vitamins in oats also help your body yield energy from all the food you consume.
This concentrated powder can contain as much caffeine as coffee, meaning matcha’s solid choice when you need an afternoon pick – me – up. In fact, the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests having 300 to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day to slow cognitive decline, boost memory and improve energy.
And let’s not forget about a classic cup of joe. Women who drink coffee regularly are at a lower risk for depression, according to one decade – long longitudinal study.
Feeling bloated and bleh? Try making some asparagus for dinner. The spears contain good – for – your – gut prebiotics and the amino acid asparagine, which is known for its diuretic effects.
We knew it all along, but research has linked moderate alcohol intake with a better mood, no to mention a longer life. And let’s not forget that red wine also provides tons of antioxidants that benefit your brain and heart.
It’s made with chopped – up veggies and herbs and it satisfies your Mexican food cravings. What’s not to love?
Figs are another food that can help you get more rest due to their potassium, magnesium, calcium, and iron content. ‘These minerals help with blood flow and muscle contraction, which are key for falling sleep’, London explains.
You know’em as a great source of protein, but eggs also provide choline – an essential nutrient involved in memory, mood, and muscle control – and vitamin B 12, which helps with neurological function.
‘Often, we find ourselves in the middle of an energy slump thanks to dehydration, which is a sneaky culprit of sleepiness’, London says. An extra serving of H20 – filled fruit like watermelon can help you power through your afternoon.
Here’s another water – filled food that can help you rehydrate efficiently especially since the citrus contains electrolytes (like potassium) for an extra pick – me – up/