We all get run down, low on energy or a little irritable every now and then. At those times we tend to reach for a tub of ice cream or chips to help us feel better, but often the end result is that we feel much more depleted or irritable. A better option would be to choose foods that have been scientifically proven to improve mood and energy.
Here are 20 foods that are known to boost energy and improve mood.
Whether it’s oranges, clementines or grapefruits you can count on getting a good dose of mood–boosting B-vitamins that are also great for brain health. These fruits also pack in plenty of water which keeps the body hydrated and a hydrated body is certainly a happier and less grumpy than a thirsty body!
Bananas are a great source of potassium, vitamin B6 and tryptophan which improve brain function, raise serotonin levels and regulate mood respectively. This powerful fruit is great for breakfast or as a snack any time of day.
Apples contain an antioxidant called quercetin which has been shown to improve mood and reduce inflammation. Vitamin C is another key nutrient in apples and it’s been shown to relieve stress and anxiety. Last but not least, the fiber content of apples is excellent for regulating insulin levels, thus keeping conditions like diabetes at bay.
Deficiencies of the B-vitamin folate have been linked to incidence of depression and an easy way to get sufficient quantities of the vitamin is to load up on spinach. Folate is needed for mood-enhancing hormones like serotonin so be sure to get your greens every day!
Any reason is a good reason to eat chocolate but did you know that it is high in magnesium, a mineral that has been shown to reduce anxiety (that explains why we reach for the choc when we’re stressed!). To get the health benefits, it’s important to go for dark chocolate – at least 70% – instead of milk chocolate. Just a small chocolate square is enough to get the mood-enhancing benefits.
This green veggie boasts nutrients like vitamin B6, folate, and tryptophan, all of which are great for improving one’s mood. B6 is known to support the nervous system, while folate and tryptophan boost production of the feel-good hormone, serotonin. And next time you’re trying to recover from a hangover, have some asparagus because the veggie contains enzymes that breakdown alcohol.
Berries are a healthy source of sugar that the body can use as fuel, ultimately helping to improve an irritable mood. And since berries have a low glycemic index they supply the body with sugar without spiking blood sugar levels.
There’s no health food that’s more popular nowadays than coconuts, and for good reason! They contain brain-friendly fats that improve cognitive function, reduce anxiety and have even been shown to improve Alzheimer’s. The fats in coconuts also help cleanse the liver and when the liver isn’t overworked, we have more energy and improved mood.
Swiss chard is loaded with mood-boosting magnesium and because magnesium is one of the minerals that many Americans are deficient in, it’s a good idea to add this leafy green to your grocery list.
Tomatoes are abundant in lycopene, a nutrient that prevents inflammation, which often can lead to depression. The lycopene is found in the tomato skin so a good way to get the nutrient is to eat cherry tomatoes since you can easily pop them into your mouth!
Peppers are a good source of vitamin C and the vitamin has been shown to stop the production of the stress hormone cortisol. So whether it’s cayenne pepper or bell peppers, you can rely on peppers to give you the mood-boosting nutrients you need.
Complex carbs like sweet potatoes are a great way to supply sugar to the body and stimulate the production of the happy hormone serotonin. Not only does serotonin improve mood, but it regulates appetite and sleep as well.
Avocados are a good source of tryptophan, B vitamins, and folic acid all of which increase production of serotonin. Avocados also contain healthy fats and antioxidants that are essential for proper brain function, heart health and cancer prevention.
The American diet is deficient in the trace mineral, selenium, and a good way to get sufficient amounts of selenium is to consume Brazil nuts. Selenium is necessary for maintaining a good mood and staving off depression. In fact, selenium is so essential that researchers have found that when the body is really low in the mineral, the brain is the last organ to give up its reserves!
Oats are a complex carb and they come packed with B vitamins, magnesium, fiber, potassium, and protein. Oats have a low glycemic index, meaning that they help maintain a stead blood sugar level, without the need for spikes or sharp drops.
Like many legumes, lentils are a complex carb and as such they increase production of serotonin, ultimately leading to a good mood!
When it comes to sugar we all know that it has to be consumed in moderation and when it must be consumed, a healthier option is raw honey. Raw honey contains quercetin and kaempferol, two compounds that reduce inflammation and also get help eliminate free radicals. Raw honey also causes less blood sugar spikes than white sugar, ultimately allowing you to maintain steady energy levels.
As far as superfoods go, kale is definitely all the rage right now, thanks to its high levels of iron, B vitamins, vitamin A and vitamin C. Kale’s nutrients have been shown to alleviate depression, reduce anxiety and improve overall mood. Not bad for a simple green leaf!
Chickpeas contain vitamin B6, protein, and magnesium, all of which increase energy, reduce anxiety and increase production of serotonin and dopamine.
Cashews contain brain-healthy fats, as well as proteins, iron, and Vitamin B6. These delicious nuts come loaded with a great variety of nutrients that make them a nutritional powerhouse for carnivores and vegans alike.