It’s normal for the occasional lousy mood to leave you elbow deep in a bag of chips (no judgement here). When we’re feeling sour, it’s natural to reach for sweets, a salty snack or some other comfort food. But while these tasty treats might help you fight off a case of the hangry-s, they don’t do a lot for your long-term happiness. Luckily, there are certain foods that can help you keep those blahs at bay for the long haul. If you’re done with that post-donut downswing, this is a list you’re going to want to keep on lock.
Looking to start your morning with a little pep in your step? Oatmeal delivers a one-two punch to keep your mental health in check. It’s chock full of l-tryptophan, an amino acid your body uses to make serotonin, your brain’s feel-good hormone. It also contains a hearty dose of fiber, which is linked to a healthy gut. And you know the classic saying: happy gut, happy life, right? Having healthy bacteria in your gut may leave you less likely to have certain mood-related disorders.
2) Red Peppers
Roasted, stuffed, or chopped up in a stir fry, this tasty veggie is a total crowd pleaser—and not just because it can be tossed into basically any dish. Thanks to their high vitamin C content, red peppers may help give your mood a little lift. While the particulars aren’t well understood, your brain uses vitamin C for many biological processes, and it’s been linked to quicker recovery from mental stress and a positive mood.
That summer blackberry crumble is doing more than satisfying your sweet tooth. Blackberries are rich in antioxidants like anthocyanins and flavanols that play a role in mood regulation. High intake of berries has been associated with a positive effect on mood and may even play a role in working memory. Add some berries to your yogurt or try throwing frozen berries in a smoothie.
Salmon is a great source of vitamin D, a hormone-like vitamin that plays a role in mood regulation. One palm-sized filet of farmed Atlantic salmon (about 3.5 oz) contains roughly 66% of your daily needs. While eating vitamin D-rich foods, like salmon, isn’t going to give you an instant bump, getting your daily dose has been associated with a reducing negative moods in some people.
5) Jerusalem Artichokes
This nutty, creamy root vegetable makes an excellent mash that might even bring a smile to your face—literally! Jerusalem Artichokes contain inulin, a type of fiber that works like food for the healthy bacteria in your gut. Unlike other nutrients that work over a longer period of time to support a positive mood, inulin may help provide an instant mood lift.
Allie has a master’s in nutrition science from Framingham State University. She has worked as a Health Educator and Personal Trainer, and has a passion for helping people lead happier, healthier lives.