Plus other foods proven to boost your mood
Happiness is just a spoonful away.
The vibrant spice turmeric, found in your favorite Indian food, can reportedly boost your mood, according to results of a study conducted by UCLA researchers.
The study, published in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, followed a group of 40 adults between the ages of 50 and 90 for 18 months. A select few were given a daily supplement of curcumin, which gives turmeric its bright yellow color. Those who took it every day reported a better mood and improved memory.
Research suggests that turmeric contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and has an ability to reduce brain inflammation, which has been linked to major depression and Alzheimer’s disease, according to the study’s author, Dr. Gary Small, director of geriatric psychiatry at UCLA’s Longevity Center.
Turmeric is just the latest ingredient scientifically proven to promote happiness. “Diverse plant foods are also linked to lower to lower risk of depression. So berries, beans, lentils and dark leafy greens are a real powerhouse food for mood. For every meal, incorporate at least one of these mood boosting foods,” says Dr. Cynthia Geyer, the medical director at Canyon Ranch, in Lenox, Mass. adding that eaters should opt for a fish dish at least twice per week.
Other foods like bananas, quinoa, oysters, dark chocolate, spinach, walnuts, radishes, pomegranates, mushrooms, shell fish and salmon are also said to enhance mood because they provide your brain with a release of beneficial chemicals like dopamine that lead to increased happiness, according to Prevention Magazine.
Eating a balanced, non-processed diet can also help your mood. Those who eat a whole foods diet — comprised of high levels of fresh vegetables and fruits — are 60% less likely to suffer from depression than those who eat a diet high in processed foods, according to Los Angeles-based psychiatrist Kirsten Thompson. Plus, you should avoid foods like white breads, pastas and rice. One reason: “Many dietary deficiencies such as low Vitamin D, B12 and folate can significantly affect cognitive function and mood,” says Thompson.
Now, many health food brands are incorporating ingredients said to boost mood into snack food products. Vegan Rob’s, the creator of Pirate’s Booty, just launched its newest product, Kombuchabar. The bar was inspired by gut health benefits and comprises a quinoa base, which has been shown to have antidepressant effects, according to a 2010 study in the Journal of Neuropharmacology. The bar also contains 6% of a consumer’s daily B12 vitamin intake, which reportedly helps improve cognitive function. And Kombucha, the fermented tea, is proven to reduce stress and boost stamina because it contains vitamins B1, B6, and B12, all of which fight depression and stabilize mood, while the probiotics featured in it are said to significantly reduce reactivity to a sad mood.
And after much extensive research on nutritional psychology, New York City psychiatrist Wendy Wolfson created Mood Eats, a health bar intended to help boost one’s mood. Each $3.95 bar is made from non-GMO, gluten-free ingredients and contains components like organic clover honey, sunflower oil, organic cashew butter, organic goji berries, maca powder, cacao butter and grass fed whey protein. There is some evidence that at least some of these ingredients can boost your mood: According to a study published in Appetite, an international research journal, chocolate can significantly improve mental function. And research from the University of San Francisco has shown that green tea, another ingredient in Mood Eats, releases dopamine in the brain that can improve mood.
Wolfson knows there are limitations to her Mood Bar: “I want to be clear – I’m not trying to assert that eating a bar will cure you of any mental or physical illness. I want to encourage people to make healthier choices and I want to provide a mood-friendly alternative to what people are already eating,” she says.
This story was originally published on Oct. 14, 2017, and has since been updated.
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