by Jennifer Landis
Choosing good food is a significant part of self-care. Sure, you want stuff that’s delicious, but how many free office doughnuts can you really have before you get sick of them? That’s because food is about way more than how it tastes. You’re smart – we’re sure you know that already. But when you’re working that nine to five and you feel like you need a mood boost, you don’t need to turn to a doughnut – you should turn to science. Science says that the foods listed below will help to boost your mood and get you through the afternoon slump. There’s never a bad time to start eating healthy to be happy.
Happy Food #1: Honey
Although honey is a sugar, which isn’t exactly your body’s best friend, honey is packed with anti-inflammatories and can increase the spread of serotonin and dopamine throughout the brain. That should certainly make you happier! Even if you can’t eat it by the spoonful, put some in your afternoon green tea for a serious mood boost. And getting locally sourced honey can help prevent seasonal allergies too!
Happy Food #2: Olive Oil
Olive oil has earned a reputation as a “healthy” oil because, in large doses, it does have some nutritional value. However, you still probably shouldn’t drink it. If you’re using it to cook with or as a salad dressing, you may be pleased to find healthy fats, like those in olive oil, can help improve your mood!
Happy Food #3: Blueberries
Blueberries aren’t just for topping your oatmeal or yogurt. They’re a delightful summer snack, and getting them in the winter can make it feel like it won’t be cold forever. Plus, they’re packed full of resveratrol, a type of polyphenol produced in plants and fungi. Recently, it’s been found to reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression in mice.
Happy Food #4: Dark Chocolate
Just the thought of chocolate probably made you perk up a bit. Dark chocolate — a good source of iron — can especially boost your mood. Cocoa gives you an instant boost of concentration and attitude, and it can help you feel more energized and awake.
Happy Food #5: Yogurt
Yogurt is one of the most popular probiotics on the market. Most people eat it because they know it’s good for your gut and can help keep you regular. A healthy gut microbiome is linked to a vast variety of health impacts. Greek yogurt has significantly more protein, so it will help keep you full longer. For extra benefits, skip the flavored kinds and add your favorite nuts and berries or honey.
Happy Food #6: Mango
Mangoes are delicious and pack a pretty intense punch of nutrition. They contain a ton of nutrients, and their trademark yellow color is an indicator of the amount of vitamin A they have. As a type of citrus fruit, they also contain a tremendous amount of vitamin C, which has been shown to help fight depression and stress.
Happy Food #7: Red Wine
If the thought of some red wine makes you happy, you’re far from alone. A few glasses might make you feel giddy, but limited, regular consumption of red wine has been linked to a lower risk of depression.
Happy Food #8: Pumpkin Seeds
It may not be Halloween, but that doesn’t mean all things pumpkin should vanish! Pumpkin seeds are the unsung heroes of pumpkin carving, and more people should be eating them — not just because they’re delicious, but also because they contain tryptophan. Contrary to popular belief, tryptophan doesn’t make you sleepy, but it is one of the primary components of serotonin — a neurotransmitter responsible for maintaining mood balance.
Happy Food #9: Mussels
Mussels, also a great source of iron, the energy mineral, are one of the healthiest shellfish options on the market. They have a high protein content with little fat and are packed with vitamins and minerals that help control your thyroid. In turn, your thyroid helps to regulate your mood and weight, keeping your body in the best setting to ward off depressive episodes.
Happy Food #10: Green Tea
Green tea is usually associated with reducing fat around your midsection, but that’s not all it does. If you’re feeling lonely, merely holding a hot cup in your hands can be soothing. The small amount of caffeine in green tea can also help boost your mood, and the light flavor of the drink means you can avoid extra sugar and the subsequent sugar crash.
Happy Food #11: Bananas
If you get muscle cramps, you already know to eat a banana. They’re rich in potassium, a vital nutrient we need to keep our bodies functioning properly. Despite their sweetness, they’re also considered a low-glycemic food, so they won’t spike your blood sugar. Eating them can help you avoid the irritation that comes when your blood sugar drops.
Happy Food #12: Flax Seeds
Flax is the star of many vegan recipes as a substitute for eggs or to add some extra energy and nutrients. Flax seeds are also a good substitute for fish, since they are one of the rare plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Those healthy fats have a wide variety of benefits, but one of the main ones is combatting depression and anxiety.
Happy Food #13: Peas
Peas pretty much hit the trifecta when it comes to keeping you full. They’re a good source of protein, fiber and carbohydrates. They fill you up first with the carbs, giving you an energy boost to keep you going. The fiber and protein come in after to ward off hunger for hours. The protein in them can also help ward off anemia for those who follow vegan or vegetarian diets.
Happy Food #14: Coffee
Coffee has caffeine, which is why many of us have a regular habit. It’s a stimulant, so it keeps you awake, and it also gives you a burst of happiness. In fact, one study found caffeine consumption is inversely correlated with depression. However, once you’ve consumed two or three cups, additional coffee doesn’t seem to have any more impact. So limit yourself to two to three cups of coffee a day, and you’ll get the best bang for your buck.
So, the next time you’re feeling like reaching into the office candy supply, consider one of the treats mentioned about to give you that mood boost your looking for. Maybe save the wine for when you get home, though.
Now, tell us in the comments below: What food makes you happy?
Image: Fabulously open-source Gratisography