Natural Foods That Enhance Your Mood


Need to uplift your spirits? Try these 8 natural foods to enhance your mood.


This dark leafy green is considered a super food because of all the health benefits it provides for the body. The list of nutrients in spinach which target depression, anxiety and mood is impressive. Spinach is high in magnesium which is often low in people with depression. Deficient magnesium can contribute to low serotonin levels creating unstable moods and poor sleep.10 Spinach is also an excellent source of folic acid, folate, vitamins B12 and B6 which are very effective for lifting depression and exhaustion. Try to include spinach or other leafy dark greens in your meals at least once a day.It’s a great pick me up for those looking to answer the question “How to eat healthy?”

Salmon is known to be a very good source of omega-3 fatty acids which beyond being very heart friendly are also crucial for both mood and memory. Omega-3 fatty acids can keep the brain active and the communication between neurons quick and effective. Salmon is also high in vitamin B12 which is required for the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter which helps lift the mood and relieve anxiety.4 It is important to only include organic wild caught fish in your diet because some farmed fish can be contaminated with PCBs and other harmful compounds.

Yogurt is packed full of nutrients which can promote good health and a good mood. Deficiencies in vitamin D and calcium have been associated strongly to depression and anxiety which explains seasonal affective disorder linked to lack of sunshine, the best source of vitamin D. If you can’t get vitamin D from the sun it is important to eat foods such as yogurt which are rich in this vitamin. Recent studies have also shown that the good bacteria and probiotics found in yogurt can lower corticosterone which is a stress related hormone.5 These studies point to a time when yogurt might be crucial in the treatment of depression and other mood disorders.

Oatmeal is one of those foods which should be part of your diet on a regular basis because they provide so many wonderful benefits. They are a healthy carbohydrate that is low on the glycemic index which means they do not cause spikes in blood sugar. This slow release of energy can stabilize the mood and eliminate carbohydrate cravings. It is thought that people crave carbs because carbohydrates kick start the production of serotonin, a mood enhancing chemical in the body.9 Oats also contain selenium which is important for thyroid health which is linked to good spirits.

Anyone who had tried a glass of milk before bed to get relaxed and sleepy knows that this wholesome beverage can make you calm and feel good. Milk contains many nutrients that can affect mood in a positive way such as whey, iodine and tryptophan. Studies have shown that whey can relieve stress and iodine is essential to good thyroid health.1The thyroid regulates most of the body’s functions with hormones including mood and metabolism. A healthy thyroid means better spirits and more energy. Tryptophan is an amino acid hat the body requires to produce serotonin which is an important neurotransmitter. Serotonin has a calming positive effect on the body which is why the drug Prozac works to conserve it. Drinking milk can help you make your own serotonin naturally.

Chocolate is one of those decadent treats that many people reach for when they aren’t feeling happy. It is not a coincidence that you feel better after eating a little chocolate because it contains many mood boosting compounds and antioxidants. Some beneficial components of chocolate include resveratrol which can boost endorphins (natural mood enhancers) and serotonin which is a chemical which also boosts the mood.3 It is important to eat only one ounce of chocolate per day and try to consume a product that is at least 70% cocoa to get the full benefit. Try to avoid drinking milk along with your chocolate because it will inhibit the absorption of all those mood altering antioxidants.

 It is not surprising that this bright sunny looking fruit can help improve your mood and energy level. Oranges are packed with vitamin C and studies have shown that being deficient in this can cause depression, low energy and anxiety. Vitamin C also helps the body absorb iron more efficiently which is important because low iron levels are also implicated in depression and tiredness.8 Eating one orange can provide more than the recommended daily amount of Vitamin C.

 All nuts offer health benefits because they are full of essential fats, fiber and protein. Certain nuts such as walnuts and Brazil nuts are effective brain food which can boost your mood and decrease anxiety and stress. Walnuts are rich in all the elements that support brain health such as omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium and antioxidants. Studies have shown that magnesium deficiency can cause depression and irritability so having a scattering of walnuts on your morning cereal can help you start the day off in high spirits.7 Another mineral that is important for mood stability is selenium and deficiencies in selenium can cause depression, tiredness and anxiety. Eating only three Brazil nuts a day can give you the recommended daily amount of selenium. Try these tasty treats chopped on a salad or in some yogurt as an afternoon snack to boost your energy and mood.


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1 Julia Ross, MA, director, Recovery Systems Clinic, San Francisco; author, The Mood Cure and The Diet Cure. Samantha Heller, MS, RD, senior clinical nutritionist, NYU Medical Center, New York. 2 “Prescription for Nutritional Healing”; James F. Balch, M.D. and Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C.; 1997 3 Walcutt, D. (2009). Chocolate and Mood Disorders. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 6, 2013, from 4 Mazza M, Pomponi M, Janiri L, Bria P, Mazza S. Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants in neurological and psychiatric diseases: an overview. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2007 Jan 30;31(1):12-26. Epub 2006 Aug 28. 2007. PMID:16938373. 5 Ensminger AH, Esminger M. K. J. e. al. Food for Health: A Nutrition Encyclopedia. Clovis, California: Pegus Press; 1986. 1986. PMID:15210. 7 Blomhoff R, Carlsen MH, Andersen LF, Jacobs DR Jr. Health benefits of nuts: potential role of antioxidants. Br J Nutr. 2006 Nov;96 Suppl 2:S52-60. 2006. PMID:17125534. 8 Ensminger AH, Esminger M. K. J. e. al. Food for Health: A Nutrition Encyclopedia. Clovis, California: Pegus Press; 1986. 1986. PMID:15210. 9 Wood, Rebecca. The Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall Press; 1988. 1988. PMID:15220. 10 Abbott LG, Rude RK. Clinical manifestations of magnesium deficiency. Miner Electrolyte Metab 1993;19:314-322. 1993.

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