When you are feeling down, depressed or irritable, having a mood elevating snack can help you feel much better. Researchers recently demonstrated a correlation between what you eat and your mood. It does appear that the old adage, “You are what you eat” is spot on. In one particular study, researchers were able to show a relationship between junk food and depression. In the study that tracked participants over five years, it was found that 58% of food junkies were more likely to have the blues than their counterparts in a different focus group whose diet consisted mainly of whole foods.
It is therefore a good idea to try a mood elevating snack next time you need a nibble. The key is having a snack that is rich in omega -3 fats, folic acid, selenium or vitamin B12 or, a snack that incorporates all these nutrients. Foliate (folic acid) helps improve communication between brain cells while omega 3 fats ward off depression by protecting the brain from inflammation. Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants which have been linked to lower incidences of depression.
Examples of Mood Elevating Foods you can Snack on
Milk is rich in tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid used by the brain to manufacture serotonin. Serotonin is responsible for making us happy and calm. Why else do you think babies settle down the moment they get a bottle of milk and promptly drift off to sleep? Commercial anti depressant medication maintains high serotonin levels in your brain. Other vitamins found in milk such as Vitamin D and B12 help reduce stress and the effects of aging. When you are feeling down and under, a glass of milk will make you feel better; just make sure it is skimmed so that you don’t end up taking in too much butter fat.
Few people need an excuse to munch on a chocolate bar. Chocolate does two things to elevate your mood. First, it contains anandamide, a lipid chemical that is similar to a chemical - tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) - found in marijuana. Yes, that was not a typo, marijuana. Both chemicals trigger the release of dopamine in the brain which leads to a ‘high effect.’ However, even though the anandamide in chocolate helps to create a feeling of well being, it would take about 25 pounds of chocolate to achieve the “marijuana high.” The second thing that chocolate does is to trigger the release of endorphins. Endorphins lessen pain and reduce stress.
However, you must be careful not to overindulge when snacking on chocolate due to the high calorie content. A small piece, the size of your little finger, will usually do the trick when you need a get happy snack.
Brown Rice, Wheat Bread and Noodles
The most favorite get happy snacks for most women are heavy in carbs. This is understandable because carbs actually increase the serotonin levels in our brains and leaves us feeling calm. Unfortunately, carbs also make you fat in the long run so it is not a good idea to eat unhealthy carb packed snacks too often. It is better to go with healthier carbs from brown rice and wheat flour products. These will tend to be digested slowly and will not give you a sugar high.
Oily fish varieties such as sardines, salmon and mackerel are rich in omega 3 fatty acids. A recent study in Finland showed that people who ate fish were less likely to suffer from depression. In addition to making you feel happier, omega 3 is also good for your brain and heart.
Bananas are rich in tryptophan which is used by the brain to manufacture serotonin. They are also one of the healthiest fruits and therefore make excellent snacks.
Broccoli is rich in foliate and the B class of vitamins. Foliate improves brain functionality and has been shown to improve temperament.
Just like Broccoli, spinach is rich in foliate and provides the same temperament benefits. It is estimated that a cup of cooked spinach contains about 250 micrograms of folic acid. Get out your cook book and find innovative ways of preparing a spinach snack.
These are just a few examples of get happy snacks. The list is endless and would include blueberries, beans, soya, nuts and many more.