“Happiness is not something readymade. It comes from your own actions.” – Dalai Lama XIV
After centuries of research, experts have come to understand that certain foods help our moods, and others, well … not so much! This year, you might want to find some new ways to make yourself both healthier and happier. Here are a few ways to do just that, all while enjoying some satisfying eats.
- Chocolate- It may not be the healthiest thing in your kitchen, but it definitely has some beneficial properties. A wee bit of daily dark chocolate is actually good for you, but here’s another reason to enjoy a sinful nibble every so often: it boosts your spirits. Chocolate literally makes you happy, but go for the dark variety, which lowers your stress-causing hormones.
- Salmon- For those of us watching our weight, salmon can be a great mood elevator. Studies have shown that its rich dose of omega-3 fatty acids helps with depression. This is great, since salmon (when prepared and served healthily) is light and low in fat.
- Pasta- Unfortunately, most of the foods that perk you up are also rich in things like saturated fat and sugar. Carbohydrates like pasta may pack on the pounds, but they also increase serotonin levels that enhance your mood. Stick to the whole wheat, unrefined version.
- Beans- They are very healthy, and for many reasons. Among those is their selenium content. This mineral can treat bouts of depression, so include beans in your diet to be a touch happier.
- Brazil nuts- Brazil nuts also contain selenium, and are great for easing irritability and anxiety. Just a handful might help you get through those extra-stressful days.
- Peanut butter – You either love it, or you hate it. For those of you who enjoy it, we’ve got great news: Peanut butter contains an important but uncommon mineral. Magnesium helps your body produce serotonin, making the classic PB&J a good choice for when you feel down in the dumps.
- Clams- Deficiencies in iron and B12 can make you feel tired and fatigued very easily, which leads to lethargy and unhappy moods. Clams contain a high dose of both, making it a real go-to food for a natural energy dose.
- Saffron- Strange as it may sound, some studies have compared the effects of saffron to Prozac; it can work almost as well as the happy drug in dealing with depression. Use a tiny bit in your cooking, and you might just be a happier person.
- Caffeine- Caffeine kicks and coffee highs you may have heard of, but there’s a reason for that. The release of dopamine in the brain is triggered by caffeine, and dopamine makes you alert and energetic. That explains why so many people need a cup of Joe first thing in the morning.
- Sesame seeds- These contain a good amount of tryptophan, one of the amino acids that promote serotonin production. They’re also a rich source of calcium, and can reduce stress to help you relax. Try baking your next plate of salmon with a sesame seed crust.
- Milk- The vitamin D, antioxidants, and tryptophan in milk make you calmer and happier. And of course, milk promotes bone health, and nobody’s happy when they’ve fractured their humerus.
- Spinach- Folate in your blood can mean a better mood, and spinach contains folate in plenty. Toss yourself a spinach salad the next time you feel disgruntled (again, we recommend the salmon).
- Of the many amino acids that contribute to your state of mind, phenylalanine is crucial. Turkey not only tastes great, but is packed with this substance that converts into dopamine. No wonder Thanksgiving is such a happy holiday!
- Broccoli- Broccoli is chock-full of vitamin B and folic acid. You’re a kid no longer, so turn that frown upside down and eat your veggies!
- Oatmeal- It is among the healthiest foods, but did you ever think it could make you happy? This rich source of vitamin B can be a contributing factor in your demeanour, especially if it becomes a daily breakfast.
- Green tea- The theanine in green tea makes this refreshing drink very healthy. Theanine has a calming and relaxing effect on the mind, helping you focus on important tasks. The minute caffeine content can also help boost your mood.
Remember not to rely entirely on food to improve your mood. Eat in moderation, and keep yourself happy and healthy in a more holistic, well-rounded way.