Feeling down? Don’t grab a cookie or bag of chips. Instead, eat these specific foods to boost your mood. Here’s why.
Certain foods can boost your mental health, while others can bring you down. Psychiatrist Laura LaChance and Dr. Drew Ramsey compiled a list named the Antidepressant Food Scale (AFS) that ranks food based on 12 vitamins and nutrients that make a difference when it comes to mental health. The goal was to provide a list of the most nutrient-dense foods that people could eat to potentially prevent and treat depression.
The 12 vitamins and minerals that play a role in boosting mood are B1, B6, B9, B12, LC-PUFA (or long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids), Fe (iron), Zn (zinc), K (potassium), Vit A, Vit C, and Selenium.
The following Antidepressant Food Scale list includes 20 plant foods and 20 animal foods.
20 Mood-Boosting Plant Foods
- Mustard, Turnip, or Beet Greens
- Lettuces (red, green, romaine)
- Swiss Chard
- Fresh Herbs (basil, cilantro, parsley)
- Chicory Greens
- Peppers (bell, serrano, jalapeno)
- Kale or Collards
- Dandelion Greens
- Red Cabbage
- Brussels Sprouts
- Butternut Squash
20 Mood-Boosting Animal Foods
- Liver and Organ Meats (spleen, kidney, heart)
- Poultry Giblets
- Fish Roe
- Bluefish or Wolffish
- Rainbow Trout
- Snail or Whelk
Nutrients and Foods to Reduce Anxiety
The following nutrients and foods have been found to reduce anxiety symptoms (note this list is not from LaChance and Ramsey).
- Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) – Salmon, Tuna, Flaxseeds, Walnuts, Chia Seeds
- Probiotics – Yogurt, Kefir, Sauerkraut, Pickles, Miso, and Kimchi
- Choline – Eggs, Meat, Liver, Soybeans
- Gluten-Free Whole Grains – Quinoa, Wild Rice, Oats
- Limit caffeine consumption
Mood-Boosting Food Recipes
Here are some of my favorite healthy recipes that incorporate one or more mood-boosting foods.
- Tuna Salad Platter recipe
- Roasted Butternut Squash and Cider Soup recipe
- Salmon with Miso-Honey Glaze recipe
- Pumpkin Spice Chia Seed Pudding recipe
- Roasted Kale and Pumpkin Seed Chips recipe
- Stuffed Peppers and Cauliflower Mash recipe
- Healthier Cobb Salad recipe
- Spinach Orzo Risotto recipe
- Kale Walnut Pesto Pasta Salad recipe
- One Pot Shrimp and Broccoli recipe
- Homemade Broccoli Soup recipe
- Blueberry Morning Oats recipe
Natural Ways to Boost Your Mood
In addition to eating these foods, you can boost your mood naturally and quickly by:
- Going for a walk
- Connecting with another person
- Taking a moment to think of something or someone you’re grateful for (and share this with them too!)
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