9 foods to boost your mood

Special to The TribuneJune 18, 2013 

Your mood may be affected by more than last night’s sleep or the whims of your irrational boss. How you feel is also determined by which foods you eat.

For instance, foods rich in the amino acid tryptophan have been shown to improve emotional stability and sleep. Tryptophan is responsible for making the neurotransmitter serotonin, well-known for its feel-good properties. It’s found in chicken, turkey, fatty fish and soybeans. Omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood may alleviate symptoms of depression, according to a study published in the June 2010 issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Psychiatric patients with major depression were given high potency omega-3 fish oil for eight weeks and fared better than a placebo-only group.

Another study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry found that those who ate a Mediterranean diet consisting of fish, olive oil, legumes, fruits, nuts and veg etables, were 30 percent less likely to develop depression than those who didn’t follow the regime.

An omega-3 fatty acid called DHA may be equally important for new mothers. According to Dr. David Kyle, the U.S. director of the Mother and Child Foundation, “We believe that the high incidence of postpartum depression in the United States may be triggered by a low dietary intake of DHA.”

Folic acid, also called folate, plays a vital role in treating depression. Research found that psychiatric patients treated with folic acid spent less time in the hospital and demonstrated better social functioning than those who didn’t get the folate supplement.

On the other hand, refined carbohydrates, such as soda, candy and fruit juice, can cause rapid spikes and drops in your blood sugar, leaving you irritable and listless. And failing to eat at regular intervals throughout the day deprives your body and brain of the vital nutrients and blood sugar levels they need to function at their best.

Of course, it’s always best to check with your physician before diagnosing or treating a serious mood disorder. Still, there’s no harm in adding these mood foods to your diet and feeling better as a result.


• Bananas. Bananas are loaded with magnesium, a nutrient that contributes to normal nerve and muscle function. They also have lots of B6, which helps make you mentally alert.

• Eggs. The Harvard School of Public Health recommends the high protein in eggs for promoting normal growth and building muscle. Although the yolks sometimes get a bad rap because of their cholesterol, they’re also packed with vitamins D, B12 and choline, nutrients important for brain development and function.

• Brown rice. Brown rice is a complex carbohydrate that boosts the brain’s production of serotonin. It also provides B1, or thiamine, known as the “mood-booster” because of its dramatic effect on the nervous system and mood.

• Spinach and other leafy greens. They’re high in folic acid, and the National Institute of Health credits them with alleviating depression and reducing fatigue.

• Nuts. These nutritional powerhouses pack lots of serotonin and B1. But they’re also high in calories. Dietitians encourage us to eat a 1-ounce portion, which fits conveniently into the palm of our hand.

• Oatmeal. Oatmeal is rich in soluble fiber that evens out blood sugar levels and slows the absorption of sugar into the blood. Other foods high in soluble fiber include beans, peas, barley, citrus fruits, strawberries and apples.

• Green tea. A research team from the Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan found that those participants who drank 5 cups of green tea per day had considerably less stress than those who drank less than 1 cup a day. Green tea leaves contain polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that reduces oxidative stress throughout the body.

• Salmon. Salmon and other fatty fish are a great source of omega-3s and work wonders on our mood. A study of 68 healthy medical students noticed a 20 percent reduction in anxiety symptoms in the group given omega-3.

• Lentils. Lentils are legumes and are teeming with folate. Just 1 cup of cooked lentils provides a whopping 90 percent of the recommended daily allowance of folic acid. They additionally contain protein and fiber, so they’re filling and help stabilize blood sugar.

Linda Lewis Griffith is a local marriage and family therapist. For information or to contact her, visit http://lindalewisgriffith.com.

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