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If we’re stressed and not getting enough sleep, it’s easy to feel down, but there’s another big contributor to your mood: what you’re eating. With its refined sugar and trans fats, the Standard American Diet is throwing our bodies off, and if you feel like you’re in a funk, a lot of it can be related back to the food that you’re consuming. “The smallest choices each day can make a real difference in improving mental and emotional well-being, stabilizing your moods, and improving your focus,” says Dr. Drew Ramsey, author of The Happiness Diet.
Looking to boost your mood naturally? Here are 11 foods that help you do just that.
1. Swiss Chard
High in folate, also known as folic acid, swiss chard and other leafy greens are good for your mood. In fact, a study by the University of York and Hull York Medical School found a link between low folate levels and depression.
2. Dark Chocolate
If you needed another reason to indulge in dark chocolate, it’s this one: dark chocolate can make you happier. A study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that consuming chocolate high in cocoa flavanols increased levels of calmness and contentedness.
Almonds pack a lot of nutrients, including folate and magnesium. Magnesium is essential to brain health, and studies have linked it to a reduction in depression, but is often deficient in modern diets. So eat more of those almonds!
Lentils are a good source of folate which is essential for your mood, and a cup of cooked lentils provides 90 percent of the recommended daily allowance of folic acid. Lentils also have the amino acid L-tyrosine, which your brain uses to make the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine, therefore helping your brain to combat depression.
While some think oatmeal is one of the most boring foods on the planet, it’s good for your mental state. That’s thanks to a lot of things, including high levels of magnesium, which help your brain fight depression and anxiety. Since it’s also a great source of soluble fiber, it helps stabilize blood sugar levels, which helps you avoid mood swings.
The nutrients in honey produce a calming effect, helpful if you’re feeling anxious, which is why many mix it into a cup of tea in the evening. A natural sweetener, it’s also a good natural energy booster, so if you feel like you’re dragging, pop a spoonful in your mouth. Nature’s energy gel.
9. Flaxseed Oil
Our standard American Diet has left us very omega-3 deficient and that can be bad for your mental state: omega-3 has been shown to be an effective supplement for fighting depression. Flaxseed oil is an easy way to get a mega dose of omega-3 essential fatty acids, helping to improve your mood.
A glass of water may be the simplest thing you can ingest, but it’s very helpful. Mild dehydration has been shown to dampen moods, which means if you want to feel mentally stronger, make sure you’re getting enough H2O throughout the day.
Feel like you’ve been having a lot of mood swings lately? Get some asparagus on your plate, because it is very high in folic acid — a deficiency that is common in people with depression.