We all know the foods we eat impact our bodies, but we don’t always realize how our food choices can affect our moods. Nutrition plays an important role in brain chemistry and structure. As a result, what we put on our plates directly affects our behavior and mental state. Although there’s still a lot of research to be done in this area, scientific studies have provided us with important clues on the importance of good mood food!
Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA (primarily found in fatty fish like salmon and trout), as well as almonds, walnuts and chia seeds, have all been shown to reduce or “chill-out” nervous system activity, in turn producing a calming effect. Try a serving of Betsy’s Best Gourmet Almond Butter (which contains chia seeds) to relax your mind and give your day a healthy boost!
Getting enough Vitamin D in your diet can also help brighten your day. Low serum levels of this nutrient have been associated with mood disorders such as PMS, depression and seasonal affective disorder. Fatty fish such as salmon and tuna, along with whole eggs, are part of a select group of foods that naturally contain Vitamin D. Since this nutrient can be difficult to incorporate into your daily diet, it’s recommended to get Vitamin D from a variety of sources, including short periods of sun exposure, supplements and fortified foods such as grain products.
On the other side of the spectrum, some foods can also dampen your mood. For example, caffeine is notorious for disturbing sleep cycles, in turn causing irritability. If you’re a coffee drinker, try to limit your intake to one or two cups a day (that means less than 16 oz!) and resist drinking caffeine-containing beverages after lunch to help avoid sleep disturbances later. Foods high in saturated fat, such as baked goodies or greasy snacks, can also leave you feeling a bit disconnected. This happens because fatty foods are digested slowly, diverting blood from your brain to your stomach, consequently leaving you in a fog. Try switching out a breaded chicken and cheese sandwich for one made with grilled chicken and a healthy source of fat, like avocado.
Adding good mood foods and avoiding the bad can really impact your mood in a positive way. Give it a try. Your mind will feel clearer, your mood will be better and your heart will thank you later!