Good Mood Food: Four Picks to Help Elevate Your Attitude!
Do you tend to turn to food for comfort? Are you feeling drained and looking for a boost to your mood? Or are you simply seeking a healthy meal to pair with your 15 Day Challenge? Read on to learn about our favorite good mood food options. Enjoy them on their own, or pair them together for a delicious meal!
Here’s Some Food for Thought
According to registered dietitians Catherine Nay (M.Ed., RD. CHES, CSOWM) and Megan Brown (MPH, RD), your diet can play a significant role in how you feel emotionally. Although food cannot prevent depression, some dishes, thanks to their vitamin and nutrient content, may be able to help you elevate your mood. (Imhoff, J., 2019)
One thing to consider, however, is that the phytonutrient content of food can vary based on factors such as where and how (or if) it was cooked, so individual results may vary (Mariantonella, P., et al., 2014; Klavinski, R., 2018).
With that said, let’s look at a few of our favorites…
Our Top Meat Pick: Turkey
Not only is it a great source of protein, turkey is also low in fat and rich in vitamins and minerals (Merschel, M., 2021)!
Turkey tops our good mood food list because it contains tryptophan. Your body uses tryptophan to make serotonin, which affects your sleep, appetite, and impulse control. Increased levels of serotonin have been shown to help people boost their mood, too! But there is a catch: Your body cannot produce the tryptophan it needs to make serotonin, so you need to get it from dietary sources like turkey (Imhoff, J., 2019).
Be careful how you prepare and eat your turkey, though. Deep frying can add calories, as can consuming the skin. For the lowest-calorie option, stick to white meat, and leave high-sodium processed options at the store (Merschel, M., 2021)!
Our Top Vegetable Pick: Spinach
Not everyone likes to gobble-down turkey, and that’s okay! For a vegan-friendly good mood food, try spinach! This leafy green plant is more than delicious, it is packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. And like turkey, it also contains tryptophan and magnesium to help boost your mood!
Take care not to eat too much, though, as spinach is known to contain more oxalic acid than most crops, and oxalic acid has been linked to the formation of kidney stones (Mou, B., 2008).
Spinach is also vitamin rich, which is great but be aware that it contains a lot of vitamin K, which plays a key role in blood clotting. If you are on blood thinners, be cautious! In this case, the South Dakota Department of Health recommends that you consult a healthcare professional before adding this delicious vegetable to your plate (January veggie of the month: Spinach., n.d.).
Runner Up: Cauliflower
Mood Booster: Chromium
Cauliflower is a low-calorie cruciferous vegetable rich in health-promoting phytochemicals, minerals, and vitamin C (Ahmed & Ali, 2013). It also contains high levels of chromium, which may help promote positive feelings, alertness, and energy (Crabtree, 2019)! In other words, Cauliflower is a healthy food choice, and we think you’ll agree that the recipe below is a delicious way to enjoy it!
Our Top Fruit Pick: Blueberries
Blueberries contain phytonutrients (Blueberries – a phytonutrient superstar – PBRC., n.d.), which, according to Catherine Nay (M.Ed., RD, CHES, CSOWM), help protect the brain from stress (Imhoff, J., 2019).
These delicious berries also contain flavonoids, which are thought to decrease your risk of developing depression (Khalid et al., 2017). Also, flavonoids are known to be anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, anti-mutagenic, and anti-carcinogenic (Panche et al., 2019)! That’s a fancy way of saying they are good for you.
Plus, blueberries just taste great, and since they are 85% water, they can also help you hydrate! Pro tip: try adding them to low-fat yogurt for an extra boost to your healthy hydration.
Our Top Treat Pick: Dark Chocolate
Mood Booster: Flavonoids
This pick is sure to be a crowd-pleaser! Studies have shown that chocolate can positively affect your mood, and thanks to flavonoids, it may benefit your brain as well (Nehlig, A., 2013). We discussed some of the benefits of flavonoids above, and dark chocolate is loaded with them! In fact, dark chocolate contains two to three times more flavanol-rich cocoa solids than milk chocolate does (Zaleska., 2022).
According to dietician Devon Peart, MHSc, BASc, RD, “The higher the concentration of cocoa solids, the more flavonoids, and the lower sugar” (Zaleska., 2022). That fact may not be great news to your taste buds, thanks to dark chocolate’s signature bitter flavor, but the darker chocolate is, the healthier it is.
Dark chocolate’s benefits go beyond being a good mood food, it is also high in fiber, and its antioxidants help protect your skin from sun damage, among other benefits (Zaleska., 2022).
Just be mindful of how much you consume: watch out for the calories, and enjoy your dark chocolate in moderation!
Our Delicious Conclusion
A healthy diet is an important part of The 15 Day Challenge, and while some of these foods can help support your efforts to lift your attitude, so can exercise and getting enough sleep (Schwartz, T., 2021).
The foods we’ve shared here can make a single tasty meal, or they can be supplemental to other dishes that you prepare.
There are certainly more good mood foods to consider beyond these picks, and we hope you will continue to research this topic to discover new dishes that can help you reach your health and wellness goals! Just don’t forget to rehydrate with a healthy drink!
Written By Gary Path, Senior Creative Content Writer
- Ahmed, F. A., & Ali, R. F. M. (2013). Bioactive compounds and antioxidant activity of fresh and processed white cauliflower. BioMed research international. Retrieved November 8, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3793502/
- Blueberries – a phytonutrient superstar – PBRC. (n.d.). Retrieved October 19, 2022, from https://www.botanical.pbrc.edu/pdf/Blueberries%20Information.pdf
- Crabtree, J. (2019, October 17). Mood-boosting foods. SEARHC. Retrieved November 8, 2022, from https://searhc.org/mood-boosting-foods/
- Imhoff, J. (2019, December 24). How to boost your mood with food. University of Michigan. Retrieved October 19, 2022, from https://healthblog.uofmhealth.org/health-management/how-to-boost-your-mood-food
- January veggie of the month: Spinach. HealthySDgov. (n.d.). Retrieved October 19, 2022, from https://healthysd.gov/spinach/
- Khalid, S., Barfoot, K. L., May, G., Lamport, D. J., Reynolds, S. A., & Williams, C. M. (2017, February 20). Effects of acute blueberry flavonoids on mood in children and young adults. Nutrients. Retrieved October 19, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5331589/
- Klavinski, R. (2018, September 20). 7 benefits of eating local foods. MSU Extension. Retrieved October 24, 2022, from https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/7_benefits_of_eating_local_foods
- Mariantonella, P., Pellegrini, N., & Fogliano, V. (2014, April). The effect of cooking on the phytochemical content of vegetables. Journal of the science of food and agriculture. Retrieved October 20, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24227349/
- Merschel, M. (2021, November 23). Is Turkey healthy for you? read this before you gobble any. www.heart.org. Retrieved October 19, 2022, from https://www.heart.org/en/news/2021/11/23/is-turkey-healthy-for-you-read-this-before-you-gobble-any
- Mou, B. (2008, October 1). Evaluation of oxalate concentration in the U.S. spinach germplasm collection. American Society for Horticultural Science. Retrieved October 19, 2022, from https://journals.ashs.org/hortsci/view/journals/hortsci/43/6/article-p1690.xml
- Nehlig, A. (2013, March). The neuroprotective effects of cocoa flavanol and its influence on cognitive performance. British journal of clinical pharmacology. Retrieved October 19, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3575938/
- Panche, A. N., Diwan, A. D., & Chandra, S. R. (2016, December 29). Flavonoids: An overview. Journal of nutritional science. Retrieved October 19, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5465813/
- Schwartz, T. (2021, August 30). Sleep is more important than food. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved October 19, 2022, from https://hbr.org/2011/03/sleep-is-more-important-than-f
- Zaleska. (2022, April 11). The 7 benefits of Dark Chocolate. Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved October 20, 2022, from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/dark-chocolate-health-benefits/