5 Foods to Improve Your Mood Now!

Mood in a funk?

Ready to feel better…like, right now?

Here’s my top 5 list of go-to foods that will help you feel better in minutes.

food to improve mood

Sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds are packed with vitamin E, copper, B1, selenium, B6, magnesium, folate, and B3. These nutrients are important for many of your body’s functions, but the combo of magnesium, B6, and B3 is especially great for mood support!

Magnesium helps your mood by relaxing tight muscles and helping overactive nerves chill out. B6 helps your body produce serotonin and GABA (mood boosters!), as well as use stored energy for fuel (energy!). Niacin (B3) helps create energy from food, as well as a bunch of other cool stuff that you won’t feel right away.

Enjoy sunflower seeds on a salad, in a protein bar or bite, with a piece of fruit, or just a handful whenever you need a mood booster! This cracker recipe is delicious and these toffee squares offer a hint of sweetness!

golden milk for depression

Golden Milk

One of my fave ways to eat turmeric, golden milk is a beautiful yellow beverage made with a bunch of spices. It has a texture akin to hot chocolate, and is warm and comforting on a cold day, before bed, or when you just need a little boost.

Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory spice that looks kinda like ginger (but smaller and orange) in its original form. It’s rich in antioxidants and causes the body to create more antioxidants. It also increases levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which helps with brain function.

Since inflammation in the brain and digestive system often coincides with anxiety and depression, it makes sense that turmeric has been shown to work as effectively as Prozac (and when used with Prozac, improves mood even better!).

This recipe is a simple way to enjoy golden milk. You can also purchase a mix from Gaia Herbs and add it to your milk of choice.

salmon for depression

Wild Alaskan Salmon

I’ve talked about salmon before in my 5 Foods to Reduce PMS blog. It's one of my favorite foods!

Here’s why:

  • salmon is rich in 2 awesome things: protein and omega 3 fats

  • protein helps you feel full and energized

  • the type of protein in salmon is easily digested

  • omega 3 fats reduce anxiety and depression, and support overall brain health

  • salmon is one of the richest sources of omega 3 fats

I recommend wild Alaskan salmon over other types because Alaskan law requires the ethical and sustainable treatment of its fish, and because wild Alaskan salmon has more omega 3s than other types, especially the king and coho varieties. Read more about wild Alaskan salmon to brush up on your expertise at the fish market.

chocolate for anxiety

Chocolate Adaptogen Bites

Ok, so this is a collection of foods…but it’s really tasty and great for mood support! I enjoy these as a quick breakfast with coffee, an afternoon snack with tea, or as a dessert alternative when I want something a little sweet but don’t feel like eating real cake or chocolate candy. Plus, the adaptogens are good for more than mood and energy - they help with exercise recovery and sleep!

This recipe is great with reishi and cordyceps powder. Reishi can promote a more resilient response to stress

This recipe uses sesame seeds so it’s a one-two punch! Add 1 tsp maca powder.

foods to support mood now

Berries

Juicy, sweet, and uplifting, berries have multiple benefits that can help you feel better right away! The fructose in berries gives you a gentle boost in blood sugar, and the fiber keeps that boost from going too high and causing excessive insulin. Translation: your mood lifts and it won’t crash!

Berries are also rich in phytonutrients that support brain and heart function, giving you more long-term reasons to eat them. And if you eat more fruits and veggies, your risk for depression and anxiety is lower.

How to eat them? Grab a handful and snack up! Use frozen berries in smoothies or on yogurt. Add fresh berries to your oatmeal or chia pudding. Make a raspberry oat crumble in the oven: mix berries, oats, coconut sugar, butter (or butter-flavored coconut oil), and cinnamon in a small baking pan and bake at 350ºF until toasty brown.

What are your favorite foods to boost mood? Share in the comments below!

~ Sarah


References:

Sanmukhani et al. (2014). Efficacy and safety of curcumin in major depressive disorder: a randomized controlled trial. Phytotherapy Research, 28 (4), 579-585.

Matsuzaki et al. (2013). Antidepressant-like effects of a water-soluble extract from the culture medium of Ganoderma lucidum mycelia in rats. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 18, 370.

Tianzhu Z., Shanghai, Y., Juan, D. (2014). Antidepressant-like effects of cordycepin in a mice model of chronic unpredictable mild stress. Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Saghafian, F., Malmir, H., Saneel, P., Milajerdi, A., Larijani, B., & Esmaillzadeh, A. (2018). Fruit and vegetable consumption and risk of depression: accumulative evidence from an updated systematic review and meta-analysis of epidemiological studies. British Journal of Nutrition, 119 (10), 1087-1101.