A diet that deprives our brains of much-needed nutrients also makes us fat.
When you're stressed out.
You're more likely to reach for high-calorie junk foods that pack on the pounds.
Fueling a never-ending unhappiness cycle that goes like this:
You eat bad, then you feel bad, so you eat worse, and then you feel, you guessed it, even worse.
But, there's an easy, drug-free way to boost your spirits and shrink your belly: brain food.
Research shows that certain foods, that carry specific flavors.
Do indeed enhance our moods.
Even to the level that some mood-stabilizing drugs do.
These super foods contain natural ingredients found to mimic "valproic acid."
Which is a prescription drug that stabilizes moods.
Could this effect be at the root of the "comfort foods" that put us in a good mood?
The study done on over 1,700 substances that contribute to how the most common foods taste to us.
Researchers have found that natural chemicals in chocolate, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries.
And super foods like fish that are high in omega-3s impact mood positively.
New studies show that the flavors themselves are structurally like valproic acid.
This drug is a common treatment for mood swings.
That afflict patients with mental disorders,such as manic depression.
For many years, we have known that various foods have properties that can alter our moods.
Now, researchers are seeking to identify the chemical compounds in these foods.
That moderate mood swings, help maintain cognitive health. Improve mental alertness, and delay the onset of memory loss.
They screened the chemical structures of over 1,700 food flavor ingredients.
Wanting to see if there were similarities to the structures of antidepressants.
And any agents that have reported antidepressant activity.
The study's main result so far is linked to valproic acid.
The researchers have not yet approached dietary recommendations.
Or new nutritional supplements with beneficial mood effects.
But this is their next step.
The takeaway message.
Is that there is a bundle of foods that can increase your mood-related quality of life.
There are many ways that foods can do this.
They can help increase levels of serotonin/
Can ease stress.
Energize the body, and help ensure a digestive system that is strong and not sluggish.
And the knowledge that you're eating healthy foods can raise your mood and relax the body.
Here are some foods that may help:
Whole-grain oats; milk; avocado; a handful of nuts.
Lentils; chocolate; and a spectrum of fruits and vegetables.
Simply avoiding the bad foods can also be a tactic.
Candy, cakes, cookies and processed foods.
Anything full of simple sugars will spike your blood sugar.
Then cause it to fall, leaving you very sluggish.
Feeding your brain with the right mood-enhancement nutrients. Found in the following 11 simple super foods.
Is all you need to do to improve your mood, boost your energy, and keep your hands out of the potato chip bag for good.
Mood-enhancement #1: Mussels
Mussels are loaded with some of the highest levels of vitamin-B12 on the planet. a nutrient that most of us are lacking.
So what's B12's mood-enhancement trick?
It helps insulate your brain cells, keeping your brain sharp as you age.
Mussels also contain the trace nutrients zinc, iodine, and selenium. Which keep your mood-regulating thyroid on track.
Mussels are also high in protein, while low in fat and calories. Making them one of the healthiest, most nutrient-dense seafood options you'll find.
(Tip: For mussels that are good for your body and the environment, look for farmed, not wild—options.)
Mood-enhancement #2: Swiss Chard
This leafy green is packed with magnesium.
A nutrient essential for the biochemical reactions in the brain.
That increase your energy levels.
A 2009 study in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry.
Also found that higher magnesium intake was associated with lower depression scores.
And Swiss chard isn't the only way to get your magnesium hit.
Spinach, soybeans, and halibut also contain healthy doses of the energy-enhancing nutrient.
Mood-enhancement #3: Blue Potatoes
Blue potatoes aren't a common supermarket find.
But they're worth looking out for on your next trip to the farmer's market.
Blue spuds get their color from anthocyanins.
Powerful antioxidants that provide neuro-protective benefits.
Like bolstering short-term memory and reducing mood-killing inflammation.
Their skins are also loaded with iodine.
An essential nutrient that helps regulate your thyroid.
Other awesome anthocyanin-rich foods: berries, eggplant, and black beans.
Mood-enhancement #4: Grass-Fed Beef
Animals raised on grass pastures.
Boast much higher levels of healthy, conjugated linoleic acid (or CLA).
A "happy" fat that combats stress hormones and blasts belly fat.
Grass-fed beef also has a lower overall fat count.
And contains higher levels of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids compared to grain-feed beef.
Another great grass-fed option: lamb.
It's packed with iron.
A nutrient vital for a stable mood.
The areas of the brain related to mood and memory.
Contain the highest iron concentrations.
Mood-enhancement #5: Dark Chocolate
Turns out chocolate's delicious taste isn't the only reason it makes you feel so warm and fuzzy.
The cocoa treat also gives you an instant boost in mood and concentration.
And improves blood flow to your brain, helping you feel more vibrant and energized.
But sorry, chocolate bars don't count.
Cocoa is the chocolate ingredient that does your body good.
So pure dark chocolate is your best bet.
If you want the mood-boosting benefits minus the extra belly flab.
And don't overdo it:
A recent study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. Found that a few ounces of dark chocolate a day is all you need to reap the benefits.
Mood-enhancement #6: Greek Yogurt
This dairy pick is packed with more calcium than you'll find in milk or regular yogurt.
Which is good news for your mood.
Calcium gives your body the "Go!" command, alerting your brain to release feel-good neurotransmitters.
As a result, inadequate calcium intake can lead to anxiety. Depression, irritability, impaired memory, and slow thinking.
Greek yogurt also contains more protein than regular yogurt. Making it a terrific stay-slim snack.
Mood-enhancement #7: Asparagus
Your mom was on to something when she made you finish those green spears at the dinner table.
This vegetable is one of the top plant-based sources of tryptophan.
Which serves as a basis for the creation of serotonin.
One of the brain's primary mood-regulating neurotransmitters.
Asparagus also boasts high levels of folate.
A nutrient that may fight depression.
Research shows that up to 50 percent of people with depression suffer from low folate levels.
Some other terrific sources of tryptophan: turkey, tuna, and eggs.
Mood-enhancement #8: Honey
Honey, unlike table sugar, is packed with beneficial compounds. Like quercetin and kaempferol that reduce inflammation.
Keeping your brain healthy and warding off depression.
Honey also has a less dramatic impact on your blood-sugar levels than regular sugar.
So it won't send your body into fat-storage mode the way the white stuff can.
Try adding some honey to your afternoon tea or morning bowl of oatmeal.
But don't go overboard; the sweet nectar has 17 g. of sugar and 64 calories per tablespoon, so too much honey can make you heavy, rather than happy.
Mood-enhancement #9: Cherry Tomatoes
Tomatoes are a great source of lycopene.
An antioxidant that protects your brain and fights depression-causing inflammation.
And because lycopene lives in tomato skins.
You'll get more of the stuff if you throw a handful of cherry tomatoes into your next salad.
Instead of slicing up one full-size tomato.
Or enjoy them on their own with a little olive oil, which increases lycopene absorption.
And try to go organic whenever possible:
Researchers at the University of California-Davis.
Found that organic tomatoes have higher lycopene levels.
Mood-enhancement #10: Eggs
Eggs are loaded with mood-promoting omega-3 fatty acids.
Zinc, B vitamins, and iodide.
And because they're packed with protein.
They'll also keep you full and energized long after you eat them.
Need another reason to get cracking?
A 2008 study in the International Journal of Obesity.
Found that people who ate two eggs for breakfast lost significantly more weight.
Than those who ate a bagel breakfast.
(Tip: Don't buy into unregulated supermarket egg claims like "omega-3 enriched" or "free-range."
If you're looking for the most natural eggs, hit up a local farmer.)
Mood-enhancement #11: Coconut
Coconut is chock-full of medium-chain triglycerides.
Fats that keep your brain healthy and fuel better moods.
And although coconut is commonly found in high-calorie desserts. You don't have to (and shouldn't) stuff your face with macaroons to get your fix.
Try throwing some unsweetened coconut shavings in your oatmeal or yogurt.
Or toss some in your next healthy smoothie for a flavor boost that will keep you smiling and skinny.
Chopped-Chicken-Salad with Apples and Walnuts
This salad provides a generous portion of fiber-filled vegetables and protein-rich chicken, plus the added benefit of omega-3-packed walnuts.
Very filling meal.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
1-2 c. chopped romaine lettuce.
4-5 oz. chicken breast, cooked, cooled, and chopped.
1/2 c. canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained.
1/2 med. Granny Smith apple, chopped.
1/4 c. chopped cucumber (with peel).
1/4 c. chopped tomato.
1/4 c. chopped avocado.
1/4 c. chopped celery.
2 scallions, minced.
1 Tbs. chopped walnuts.
2 Tbs. reduced-calorie raspberry vinaigrette.
1. Place lettuce in large bowl.
Add chicken, chickpeas, apple, cucumber, tomato, avocado, celery, scallions, and walnuts.
Drizzle with vinaigrette and toss to coat.
Makes 1 Serving of chopped-chicken-salad.
36 g. Protein,
45 g. Carbohydrates,
17 g. Fat,
2 g. Saturated Fat,
66 mg. Cholesterol,
14 g. Fiber,
653 mg. Sodium.
Low-quality carbohydrates, found in foods that are loaded with refined flours and sugars, can make you feel irritable by causing erratic blood sugar levels.
Stay stable with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, which have fiber that keeps blood sugar steady.
It's critical to moderating mood because it helps slow the absorption of carbohydrates, which helps prevent blood sugar highs and lows.
Include a serving at every meal.
The relationship between depression and omega-3 fatty acids is not completely understood.
Studies have shown that people who are clinically depressed have low blood levels of the fatty acids.
Doses greater than 3 g. (3,000 mg.) per day are often used along with prescription antidepressants to treat clinical depression.
Ask your doctor if this is an option.Tweet
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