Nourish, Nutrition Advice

Five Foods Scientists Say Will Boost Your Mood

June 25, 2012

popcornFighting the Monday morning blues? We’ve got just the answer: five delicious snacks that are full of compounds that will help ward off depression, make you more awake and reduce anxiety by boosting happy brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine.

1. Popcorn

Happy Mood Booster: Tryptophan

You probably think of Thanksgiving dinner when you hear the word tryptophan but the reality is that when amino acid is consumed with carbohydrates (popcorn) instead of protein (turkey), it’s more effective in helping your body produce serotonin, which puts you in that happy-yoga-OM-like state. A study published in the journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavia found that tryptophan-rich foods offer mood-elevating effects. Plus three cups of air popped popcorn is only about 100 calories!

2. Walnuts

Happy Mood Booster: Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)

A study of 55,000 women published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid in foods like walnuts is a star in helping to alleviate depression symptoms. In the 10-year study, Harvard University researchers found that the risk of depression was lower among women who consumed more ALA, a compound previously thought to have few health benefits.

3. Cottage Cheese

Happy Mood Booster: Tyrosine

Tyrosine is an amino acid that aids the brain’s production of norepinephrine and dopamine, two chemicals that help with motivation and reaction time. The amino acid is an essential building block for chemicals that regulate your mood like norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin. Plus 1/2 a cup of fat free cottage cheese is only about 80 calories!

4. Sunflower Seeds

Happy Mood Booster: Selenium

Got the baby blues? A study published in the Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine suggests that selenium can help prevent postpartum depression. In the study, postpartum women who had 100 mcg of selenium a day had lower postnatal depression scores.This largest amounts of selenium are found in Brazil nuts but stick to a lighter option like sunflower seeds. A quarter cup of roasted seeds in their shells has about 70 calories.

5. Avocado

Happy Mood Booster: Oleic acid

By now you know that avocados are full of healthy fats, but did you know they can also help keep a bad mood away? Avocados are rich in Oleic acid, a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid, which increases the happy chemical serotonin in the brain.


*Photo courtesy of by Vegan Feast Catering via Flickr.

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