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Posted on 02-18-2014

Spring is not too far away.   If you need something sunny to look forward to, eating comfort foods may be a simple way to boost your spirits.

How food affect our moods may be connected to how they react to the chemical composition of our brain.  Some nutrients in the foods can affect the brain by causing the release of certain neurotransmitter such as serotonin, known as feel-good chemical. 

For many of us, some of the foods that do this are not the healthiest for us. Thankfully, Mother Nature designed some mood enhancing foods that are also good for you.  

Here are some examples of good mood foods that are also good for you.

Milk.  Milk produces a wonderful calming effect because it is rich in tryptophan, which helps to produce serotonin. Serotonin plays an important role in elevating the mood and also helps you sleep more soundly.

Dark Chocolate.  Dark chocolate also contains high amount of tryptophan as well as antioxidants.  It is rich in variety of mood lifting ingredients to raise brain chemicals, such as serotonin and dopamine that produce a natural euphoria.  Choose one that is high in cocoa content but low in sugar to get maximum nutrients.

Whole Grains.  Whole grains allow you to regulate your blood sugar which leads to a more even temperament.  Just like fruits and vegetables, they are low-fat foods that are overflowing with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals that people of all ages need to fend off disease and achieve optimal health.  This also hinders cravings. 

Spinach.  Spinach (and most leafy vegetables) is folic acid and magnesium powerhouse!  Too little folic acid leads to lower levels of serotonin in the brain.  Also, magnesium is a natural anxiety combatant- preventing fatigue, irritability, and lack of concentration.

Turkey.  Turkey as we know from Thanksgiving is filled with tryptophan - linked to increased mood, calm and sleepiness. Other foods that contain tryptophan besides turkey are bananas, seafood, pineapple, tofu, spinach, nuts and sunflower seeds.

Strawberries.  Strawberries are outstanding source of vitamin C; known to reduce the stress hormone cortisol.  Strawberries also contain soluble fiber, which helps to smooth out blood sugar levels.  In general, berries are rich in antioxidants that fight against free radicals that damage the cells and DNA.

Salmon.  Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help to decrease levels of stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline.  Oily fish are also good sources for vitamin D-another mood booster.

You can substitute omega-3 from fish with walnuts, pumpkin seeds, seafood, ground flaxseeds, canola oil, and omega-3-fortified eggs.

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