Looking for some quick and easy ways to boost your mood? Start with food! A lot of foods out there are filled with mood-boosting nutrients that can cheer you up in no time. By adding these six tasty treats to your diet, you'll be able to banish the winter blahs, feeling more cheery in no time.
Eggs increase acetylcholine production
Eggs are loaded with vitamin B12 and choline— a tough-to-get nutrient duo that signals the brain to make more of the moodsteadying, focus-enhancing neurotransmitter acetylcholine. No wonder scientists at the University of Connecticut in Storrs found that when women enjoy two eggs daily, they see a noticeable uptick in memory, focus, concentration and happiness scores in as little as 10 days.
Berries boost serotonin levels
They’re nature’s number one source of anthocyanins— nutrients that gently prod brain neurons to release more mood-elevating serotonin. Enjoy 1 cup of your favorite berries (fresh or frozen) daily and scientists at Stanford University say you could feel 45 percent happier and calmer in 4 days. And there’s more good news if you love berry pies or compotes: Heating berries causes their cell membranes to break down, an effect that doubles your body’s absorption of anthocyanins.
Tomatoes quiet the amygdala
The more tomatoes you eat, the calmer you’ feel—and digging into them daily can boost happiness by 28 percent in a week. That’ because lycopene, the pigment that gives tomatoes their pretty red hue, calms the amygdala—the brain’ anxiety center, say University of Pennsylvania scientists. Hint: Opt for cooked tomatoes as often as possible since the body absorbs 4 times more lycopene from cooked tomatoes than from raw.
Avocados steady blood sugar
The monounsaturated fatty acids in these gems slow carb absorption in the intestines, say UCLA researchers. And adding as little as one-quarter of an avocado to a meal can cut your risk of blood-sugar dips—and the blue moods and anxiety they trigger— in half for up to 4 hours.
Salmon soothes overworked adrenals
Eating one 6 oz. serving of salmon weekly cuts your risk of winter blues by 24 percent—and three weekly servings will double all-day happiness scores, say Finnish researchers. The reason? Salmon is rich in DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)—an omega-3 fat that calms the adrenal glands, tamping down the production of mood-sapping cortisol.
Greek yogurt speeds dopamine release
You can chase away the grumpies— and cut your risk of blue moods by up to 33 percent—by adding 1 cup of plain full-fat Greek yogurt to your daily diet. British scientists credit the treat’s L-tyrosine (an amino acid) and conjugated linoleic acid (a healthy fat), which work together to increase the brain’s production of the antidepressant hormone dopamine.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.