Good Mood Food!
If eating certain foods could make you feel happier, would you eat them?
Studies show that changing to a healthy diet does not mean you are necessarily giving up on being happy, on the contrary it can actually make you happier. There are many benefits to eating healthy foods and a good mood and mental health is one of them. According to researchers not only does it lower your risk of disease but also increases your good mood. Many factors of happiness are beyond or out of our control; like the weather. However, we can control what we eat. Are you ready to stock up on some good-mood, healthy foods? Eating a variety of healthy whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, proteins and whole grains offers vital vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants that your body needs.
Can healthy eating really make you happy?
It is not unheard of in science to link a healthy diet with feeling happy, but does it actually make you happy? It really does feel so satisfying to bite into a cheesy slice of pizza or munch on some salty chips. A celery stick really does not have the same appeal though. Although foods that have a high fat and sugar content, or are highly processed can make you feel good in the short term, in the long-term research has shown that it has detrimental effects not only on our health but more specifically on our happiness. But can a healthy diet actually make us happy? According to studies, yes, they do, especially fruits, vegetables, whole grains and proteins.
What should you eat according to the world database of Happiness?
According to the World Database of Happiness, an archive of research on enjoyment in life, there is evidence showing that healthy eating adds to happiness. When people maintained a healthy diet, their happiness increased. It was then stated in conclusion by the researchers that “People should know that changing to a healthier diet will not be the cost of their happiness, but will add to it.”
How many fruits and vegetables do I need to eat to be happy?
Research suggests that you should eat another serving of fruits and vegetables if you want to be a bit happier. For every extra portion of fruits and vegetables consumed by an adult, their happiness increases. An Australian study concluded that among those who do not eat a lot of fruits and vegetables there is a high prevalence of depressive symptoms.
Is it healthy to just eat certain foods though?
A healthy diet contains a variety of foods. Having a list of ‘happy foods’ can be a fun way to introduce you to new and nutritious foods or to introduce a wider variety of whole foods into your daily diet. “A lot of us would like to believe that there is one specific food that will boost us…but the reality is that our body is an intricate and complicated system, and there are a lot of different types of foods, and nutrients in those foods that play a role in our health,” notes Pritikin Centre Dietician, Lon Ben-Asher, MS, RD, LD/N. Focusing on one food is not beneficial to mental or physical health. However, being happy might be a result of what you stop eating when you follow a healthy diet explains Kimberly Gomer, Director of Nutrition at the Pritikin Centre – “What makes people feel super at Pritikin is not eating all the salt, sugar, and oil.”
7 Good Mood Superfoods
Out of the variety of healthy foods that researchers think can improve your mood these are considered the 7 “happiest” superfoods. Biting into these foods may just make you smile according to researchers.
A new study out of the United Kingdom suggests that consuming more fruits and vegetables can have benefits for mental health in the short term. The research, which was titled “Lettuce be Happy”, looked at data from a variety of sources and found that there is a correlation between eating healthy and feeling happy.
Blueberries are not only delicious, but they can also improve your mood. Flavonoids, which are found in blueberries, have been shown to boost executive function in the brain. This can help to alleviate depression and rumination. So next time you’re feeling down, try reaching for a handful of blueberries instead of unhealthy comfort foods.
Chocolate has been shown to improve mood and provide comfort for many people. The cocoa flavanols in dark chocolate can actually increase neurotransmitter production in the brain, which is linked to feelings of happiness and reward. So next time you’re feeling down, reach for some chocolate and enjoy the delicious benefits! When you have more dopamine, serotonin, and tryptophan in your brain, you are less likely to experience depression and your mood will be improved. The key to unlocking this happy factor is to consume dark chocolate that contains 80-100% cacao. Kimberly Gomer, Director of Nutrition at the Pritikin Centre, warns that these types of chocolate can be bitter but they are worth it for the benefits they provide.
You may not know it, but those beautiful green tea leaves contain an amino acid called L-theanine. This amino acid is necessary for the production of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), a compound that has a calming effect on the brain. According to a review of 21 scientific studies, green tea and its components (caffeine, catechins, and theanine) can significantly improve attention, cognition, relaxation, and calmness. So next time you need a pick-me-up, reach for a cup of green tea instead of coffee or energy drinks.
Mushrooms are a food that can actually make you happy, thanks to their plant-based source of tryptophan. This compound is already known to be involved in happiness, and mushrooms also contain B vitamins which are essential for optimal brain function. Other sources of tryptophan include leafy greens, soybeans, watercress, broccoli, and peas. B vitamins are essential for human health, but many people do not get enough of them in their diets. This is especially true in developed countries like the United States, where diets tend to be lacking in plant-based foods like vegetables, mushrooms, and whole grains.
Quercetin, a naturally occurring compound found in many plants, has the ability to block the monoamine oxidase (MAO) enzyme. This enzyme is responsible for breaking down neurotransmitters that produce feelings of happiness. People suffering from depression often have high levels of MAO enzymes. Inflammation plays a role in this process, but consuming fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory nutrients, and quercetin can help improve mood.
There are many nutrients that have anti-inflammatory properties, but omega-3 fatty acids may be especially beneficial in preventing depression. EPA and DHA are two types of omega-3 fatty acids that have been shown to be effective in reducing inflammation. Interestingly, studies comparing the happiness of meat-eaters, fish-consumers, and vegetarians have found that vegetarians tend to be the happiest group.
Pritkin Longevity Centre + Spa. (2019). These 7 Superfoods can Actually Make You Feel Happy. [Online]. Pritkin.com. Last Updated: 2019. Available at: https://www.pritikin.com/your-health/healthy-living/eating-right/these-7-superfoods-can-actually-mak [Accessed 30 September 2022].
Various. (2019). Social Science & Medicine. [Online]. Elsevier. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277953618306907 [Accessed 30 September 2022].