From stress to sadness, bad moods aren’t fun. They can be really hard to shake. But what if diet could turn it around? Food is powerful, after all.
It can affect your emotions, feelings, and overall mental health. Of course, exercise and sleep are a big help. Yet, the food you eat matters.
Here are five bad moods and the best foods to treat them.
1. Stress: Dark Chocolate
Feeling stressed? Indulge in dark chocolate. According to the Journal of Proteome Research, this treat will relieve emotional stress.
It works by reducing cortisol – the stress hormone.1 If cortisol gets too high, you’ll be at risk for high blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar. Menstrual problems and acne might also crop up.2
Obviously, moderation is important. A daily intake of 1.4 ounces has been shown to help.5 To eat dark chocolate in a healthy diet, add it to smoothie bowls, oatmeal, and yogurt. It’ll instantly sweeten up a nutritious meal.
2. PMS: Peanut Butter
Are you dealing with premenstrual syndrome or PMS? Eat peanut butter. The nutrients in this tasty food will help you feel so much better.
PMS is pretty common. Symptoms include tension, irritability, mood swings, crying spells, depression, and anxiety. Low energy levels and fatigue are also likely. About 85 percent of women have at least one PMS symptom, but it’s normal to have several.6
Peanut butter helps in a surprising way. It’s a rich source of tryptophan – an amino acid that makes serotonin and niacin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that’s linked to mood, and niacin is a vitamin that’s necessary for a healthy brain.7 8
Plus, peanut butter offers protein – a macro nutrient that’s needed for energy and good health. Together, these benefits fight PMS symptoms.
3. Anxious: Salmon
If you’re feeling tense, make salmon. This fatty fish has nutrients that’ll ease anxiety.
Salmon is a rich source of niacin – a nutrient that supports the nervous system. In fact, mild niacin deficiency is linked to low mood. Eating salmon will prevent that.9 This fatty fish is also packed with omega-3 fatty acids. Specifically, a fat called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) helps the nervous system. DHA increases the availability of neurotransmitters, making sure those “feel good” chemicals do their job.
Even the structure of cell membranes depends on DHA. No wonder fatty fish is linked to a good mood!10
For a filling meal, grill or bake salmon. Add your favorite spices or even just some lemons. Pair with veggies, quinoa, or brown rice.
4. Sad: Spinach
Spinach is great for when you’re feeling down. Maybe it’s a part of PMS, or maybe you’ve had a rough day. Whatever the reason, spinach may help.
This leafy green is an excellent source of folate or vitamin B9. It’s necessary for healthy brain development. Low intakes are linked to depression, making it vital for happiness.
In half a cup of boiled spinach, you’ll get 131 mcg DFE. That’s more than a fourth of the recommended 400 mcg a day.11 It’s a good reason to make a spinach salad or green smoothie.
5. Angry: Walnuts
Are your insides boiling? Take a few deep breaths and munch on walnuts.
These nuts provide omega-3 fats, which is needed for brain health and function. It’s exactly what you need when you’re heated! Walnuts are specifically high in alpha-linolenic acid. The body uses this fat to make DHA – a fatty acid that makes up most of the brain. Again, mood depends on it.
You can eat walnuts as is. Otherwise, they work well on top of salads, oatmeal, and yogurt.12
Don’t wait to eat these mood-boosting foods. Make them a part of your regular diet! If necessary, a therapist can help you work through these emotions.
|↑1, ↑3, ↑5||Martin, Francois-Pierre J., Serge Rezzi, Emma Peré-Trepat, Beate Kamlage, Sebastiano Collino, Edgar Leibold, Jürgen Kastler, Dietrich Rein, Laurent B. Fay, and Sunil Kochhar. “Metabolic effects of dark chocolate consumption on energy, gut microbiota, and stress-related metabolism in free-living subjects.” Journal of proteome research 8, no. 12 (2009): 5568-5579.|
|↑2||Stress and your health. WomensHealth.gov.|
|↑4||Catecholamine blood test. MedlinePlus.|
|↑6||Premenstrual syndrome. WomensHealth.gov.|
|↑8||Vitamin B3 (Niacin). University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑9||Niacin. University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑10, ↑12||Essential Fatty Acids. Oregon State University.|
|↑11||Folate. National Institutes of Health.|