Protein-rich food, like salmon, is one of the easiest ways to fight hunger fast, and who doesn't feel better when their stomach finally stops growling? One of the healthiest sources of fat, salmon is also packed with omega-3s, which have been shown to have mood-boosting effects on depressed patients, according to research published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.
Healthy fat isn't the only thing you'll get when you add coconut to your diet; you'll also get a tasty way to improve your mood. The medium-chain triglycerides found in coconuts have been shown to help boost brain function, according to a study conducted by researchers at Yale University and SUNY Albany.
A healthy high-fat food, avocado has a long list of benefits for your body, including improved mood. A study published in Physiology & Behavior found that male rats who were fed a high-fat diet displayed less anxiety than those given primarily carbs or protein, so go ahead and enjoy that avocado toast, guilt-free.
Citrus fruit can improve your health in a wide variety of ways, from lowering your risk of stroke to improving your mental health. In fact, citrus fruit like lemons are such a powerful force, all it takes is smelling them to make you happier — the results of a Japanese study show that sniffing a bit of citrus can significantly reduce stress.
The fact that beans improve your heart health while helping you lose weight should be enough to make you happier on their own. For those who aren't already wowed by that world-class health resume, this might change your mind: high-protein diets, like those rich in beans, have been shown to decrease both depression and anxiety symptoms.
Tomatoes are an excellent source of belly-slimming beta-carotene, as well as quercetin, which may help reduce your risk of mental illness. According to researchers at the Agnihotri College of Pharmacy, quercetin had an antidepressant effect when administered to mice, so it's high time you get some more tomatoes into your daily meal plan.
Fight inflammation and boost your mood the easiest (and tastiest) way possible: by grabbing a handful of blueberries. Blueberries are an excellent source of bloat-fighting, brain-powering antioxidants, which can help fight inflammation, which has been shown to be a potential trigger for depression.
- Green Tea
The boost of caffeine you get in every cup of green tea makes this fat-fighting drink one of the easiest ways to improve your mood in a jiffy. Research published in Behavioural Pharmacology even found that caffeine consumption was associated with antidepressant effects in animal test subjects. However, make sure you're not overdoing it — overconsumption of caffeine can also lead to anxiety.
- Dark Chocolate
There's a reason people turn to candy when they're feeling down: eating chocolate is an almost instantaneous way to better your mood. Not only does chocolate pack a little bit of energy-boosting caffeine, the antioxidants found in chocolate can help bust you out of a bad mood. In addition to the act of eating pleasurable food flooding your brain with mood-boosting dopamine, the polyphenols in chocolate have also been linked to increased feelings of calmness and happiness.
Instead of turning to waistline-expanding fats like French fries when you're feeling down, boost your mood with a healthy source of fat, like tuna, instead. Tuna is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are associated with an improvement in mood, according to research published in European Neuropsychopharmacology.
- Brown Rice
Replacing your usual breads and pastas with brown rice-based versions may make you happier in the long run. Research published in BMC Psychiatry suggests that going gluten-free can help reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression. The weight loss you're likely to see when you switch from refined grains to whole probably won't hurt, either.
Kale may be one of the first veggies you turn to when you're trying to turbocharge your weight loss, but it's probably not the first thing you think of eating when you're feeling blue. As it turns out, you might want to adjust your opinion of what classifies as comfort food, because research indicates that kale might be better for your mood than anything sweetened or fried. According to the British Journal of Nutrition, people with higher levels of antioxidants, like the beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin found in kale, had lower rates of depression.
If you're looking for that omega-3 high but can't stomach the thought of cooking another salmon filet, turn to mussels instead. Mussels pack an impressive omega-3 count and are nicely complemented by other mood- and metabolism-boosting flavors, like chili pepper and citrus fruit.
Not all depression-lifting protein sources are marine-based. For those who aren't particularly fond of seafood, chicken is an easy way to get plenty of protein and improve your mental health in the process. An Australian study of women with polycystic ovarian syndrome found that adhering to a high-protein diet not only spurred weight loss, but helped reduce their depressive symptoms and increased their self-esteem.
One of the best vegetables for weight loss, spinach isn't half-bad at making people feel happier, either. All those antioxidants you're getting in each spinach salad or green smoothie could be reducing your risk of depression and anxiety with every bite. According to research published in Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, patients given a multivitamin that boosted their antioxidant levels reported feeling less depressed and stressed out.