Posted on Fri, May 14, 2010, 5:04 am PDT Happier, Healthier You
by Lucy Danziger, SELF Editor-in-Chief a Yahoo! Health Expert for Women's Health
As anyone who has sought solace in a pint of Häagen-Dazs knows, food can be a source of comfort and pleasure as well as nutrients. While overdoing it on ice cream and candy is likely to cause more stress when you regret all those empty calories, consistently munching the right bites can actually help change your outlook from bummed to bright! Even better news: Since what's good for your brain is also a boon for your body, incorporating these five mood boosters into your diet may improve not only your outlook, but also your energy and your figure. Eat up and lighten up!
Eat it for your brain: A handful of MultiGrain Cheerios or Kashi Heart to Heart offers folic acid, which can help fend off the blues. Those with low levels of the nutrient experience more symptoms of depression, a study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health suggests, and a folic acid deficiency may prevent your antidepressants from working.
Eat it for your body: A quick bowl of whole-grain cereal brims with iron and vitamins, and gets your metabolism humming—and it sure beats skipping breakfast altogether, since that can lead to all sorts of problems later in the day. People who skipped breakfast only once every three months were 34 percent more likely to be obese than those who didn't, according to a study from the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester. So even if your body doesn't want it when you first wake up, find a breakfast you can live with, and eat up.
Eat it for your brain: Those with the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids, found in several kinds of fish, were happier than those with lower levels, a study from the University of Pittsburgh reveals. Omega-3 fatty acids enhance areas of the brain that affect disposition. Certain fish also pack B12, a known mood booster, which wards off the doldrums by stimulating the brain's production of serotonin, helping you relax. Aim to eat two servings of low-mercury fish (like catfish, cod, crab, flounder and halibut) weekly for more smiles!
Eat it for your body: Wild salmon, trout, herring and other cold-water fish are filled with vitamin D, which helps curb appetite, as well as omega 3's, which lower the risk for heart disease. Research also shows that eating fish regularly improves insulin insensitivity, which helps build muscle and decrease belly fat.
Eat them for your brain: Feel sunnier by adding a bit of yellow. Egg yolks contain choline, a mood enhancer. Being low on this nutrient could lead to feeling anxious.
Eat them for your body: Yolks act as a multivitamin, delivering vitamins A and D, as well as folate and calcium.
Eat it for your brain: Sweeten your mood by indulging your chocolate urges. Half of depressed people reported craving chocolate, and most of them felt soothed after indulging, according to a survey in The British Journal of Psychiatry. Since chomping too much chocolate sends you into a sugar coma, munch just 1 ounce and savor every bite!
Eat it for your body: Eating a couple ounces of dark chocolate a week (about one Ghirardelli square a day) may cut your risk for heart disease by 33 percent, according to a study in The Journal of Nutrition. Plus, it has more disease-fighting antioxidants than green tea, red wine or blueberries. Perhaps Willy Wonka was on to something!
FRUITS & VEGGIES
Eat them for your brain: Want a buzz booster? Frequent the produce aisle! People who ate the most fruits and veggies were least likely to feel depressed, a study by the University College London found.
Eat them for your body: Munching the recommended 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of veggies a day reduces your calorie intake and bolsters your immunity. The darker and more colorful, the better! The shades in fruits and vegetables come from phytonutrients, which protect different organs. For example, lutein in greens protects your eyes, while lycopene-packed red tomatoes shield your heart. Color yourself healthy!
For more natural mood boosters go to Self.com.