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Foods to Uplift Your Mood

Resolve to eat to keep your spirits high
By
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Expert Column

No matter what challenges your day brings, it's easier to face the world when your spirits are high. And it's hard to be in a good mood when you're feeling hungry or if your body is lacking key nutrients.

But can eating certain foods really help keep bad moods at bay? The scientific community still has much to learn about how our diet influences our moods. While we don't have the whole story yet, we certainly have some clues.

Basically, the science of how food affects our moods is based on this equation: Dietary changes bring about changes in our brain structure, chemistry, and physiology, which lead to -- changes in behavior!

Studies have shown there are quite a few things we can do, food-wise, to help stabilize our moods. I've listed some of them below. I advise following as many of these suggestions as possible so that you have all your food/mood ducks in a row. These suggestions offer many other health benefits, too, so you have nothing to lose.

How to Boost Your Mood With Food

1. Go fish! Work more omega-3 fatty acids into your meals. These are found in fish and some plant foods as well. Researchers have noted that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids may be mood stabilizers, playing a role in mental well-being.

A recent study in New Zealand found that fish consumption was linked to better mental health (as reported by the participants) -- even after the researchers allowed for other factors that could influence the results.

Among new mothers, another study found that lower levels of fish consumption, along with lower levels of DHA (the omega-3 fatty acid found in fish) in breast milk, tended to be linked to higher rates of postpartum depression.

Eating plant foods rich in omega-3s is also probably a good idea. A good source of this nutrient is ground flaxseed (1 tablespoon a day is considered a safe, effective dose for most people; check with your doctor if you are pregnant, nursing, or have any concerns). Other sources include canola oil, purslane (an herb), cauliflower, red kidney beans, and broccoli.

2. Eat a balanced breakfast. Include lots of fiber, nutrients, some lean protein, and good (unsaturated) fats to balance out your whole-grain carbohydrates every single morning.

Regularly eating breakfast leads to improved mood, according to some researchers -- along with better memory, more energy throughout the day, and feelings of calmness.

3. Eat more selenium-rich foods. Selenium is a mineral the brain can count on. Five studies have reported that low selenium intake is linked to poorer moods. Although the cause is unclear, researchers have some clues. The way the brain metabolizes selenium differs from other organs: When there's a deficiency of selenium, the brain retains this mineral to a greater extent -- leading some researchers to believe that it plays an important role in the brain.

Top selenium-rich foods (not including organ meats, which are also shockingly high in cholesterol) include: Brazil nuts, oysters, albacore tuna, clams, sardines, pork tenderloin, crab, saltwater and freshwater fish, whole-wheat and regular pastas, lean pork chops, chicken (dark and light meat), lean lamb, sunflower seeds, whole-wheat bread, plain bagels, brown rice, oatmeal, flour tortillas, soynuts, eggs, low-fat cottage cheese, tofu, pinto beans, and low-fat yogurt.

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