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

  1. Watercress
  2. Spinach
  3. Mustard, Turnip, or Beet Greens
  4. Lettuces (red, green, romaine)
  5. Swiss Chard
  6. Fresh Herbs (basil, cilantro, parsley)
  7. Chicory Greens
  8. Pummelo
  9. Peppers (bell, serrano, jalapeno)
  10. Kale or Collards
  11. Pumpkin
  12. Dandelion Greens
  13. Cauliflower
  14. Kohlrabi
  15. Red Cabbage
  16. Broccoli
  17. Brussels Sprouts
  18. Acerola
  19. Butternut Squash
  20. Papaya

20 Mood-Boosting Animal Foods

  1. Oysters
  2. Liver and Organ Meats (spleen, kidney, heart)
  3. Poultry Giblets
  4. Clam
  5. Mussels
  6. Octopus
  7. Crab
  8. Goat
  9. Tuna
  10. Smelt
  11. Fish Roe
  12. Bluefish or Wolffish
  13. Pollock
  14. Lobster
  15. Rainbow Trout
  16. Snail or Whelk
  17. Salmon
  18. Herring
  19. Emu
  20. Snapper

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. 

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
  • Meditating
  • Taking a moment to think of something or someone you’re grateful for (and share this with them too!)

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