Delicious Living writers Caren Baginski and Elisa Bosley do a great job explaining how what we eat affects our mood.
They point out that in 2012, antidepressants were the second most prescribed drug in the United States, and then juxtapose the $23.5 billion spent on mental-health pharmaceuticals, representing nearly 22 million people and 329 million mental-health-related prescriptions, with the $188 billion in sales of quick service restaurants this year, to make the “you are what you eat,” argument.
“Good-mood foods allow your body to produce greater amounts of serotonin [the body’s feel-good chemical],” says Mary Bernt, a 27-year vegan and international nutrition lecturer.
“The science of nutrition—never the correct answer on tests in medical school—goes back to Hippocrates’ saying: ‘Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.’”
Stock up on the following 5 foods to put you in a positive frame of mind, courtesy of deliciousliving.com:
1) Flaxseed and Walnuts
In a 2013 animal study, flaxseed’s natural phytoestrogens reversed depressive-like behavior, with no adverse side effects. Flaxseed also offers alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) omega-3s, well-researched antidepressive nutrients. Scientists laud antioxidant-rich walnuts, another ALA source, for battling postpartum depression, manic-depressive psychosis, and even dementia. Eat a mere 1.5 ounces of walnuts daily—about a handful—for benefits.
Try them in: Flaxseed and Pomegranate Smoothie; Cherry-Walnut Bites
Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, found in cold-water fish (such as salmon and sardines) and fish oil supplements may ward off depression even better than plant-based ALA because they are more bioavailable, according to a 2010 study in Bipolar Disorder.
Try it in: Nori-wrapped Glazed Salmon with Sesame Kale; Broiled Sardines with Fennel and Olives
This often-overlooked vegetable is a treasure trove of neuroprotective, antidepressant compounds. Full of soluble as well as insoluble fiber, okra feeds “good” gut bacteria, which researchers increasingly believe influence mood, motivation, higher cognitive functions, and overall brain health. A 2011 study also suggested gut microbiotics could alleviate stress-related disorders.
Try: Pan-Seared Okra
In 2009, scientists investigated the antistress effects of hydrolyzed yeast; after three days of taking it, participants showed “psychologically stable” brain maps, and after two weeks, their depression and anxiety markers improved. Get yeast’s mood-lifting B-complex vitamins by mixing nutritional yeast flakes with cashew or almond butter, forming into balls, and rolling in toasted sesame seeds; or sprinkle directly over hot popcorn.
Try it in: Mocha Chip Muffins
Bernt’s favorite mood-enhancing recipe? Raw kale salad. “I feel so good when I eat raw kale. Plus, I run a café and there’s stress involved with that, so I love stripping kale off the stems.” In addition to providing a way to vent aggression, kale also delivers a little ALA and a huge dose of anti-inflammatory vitamin K, valuable because new research points out a clear link between chronic inflammation and mental disturbances such as depression.
Try it in: Raw Kale Salad with Pumpkin Seeds