• Kara DeMaio

12 Mood-Boosting Foods That Won't Break Your Budget


On my journey this year to developing more healthy habits, one thing that I've been reading a lot about is food and how it makes you feel. We all have different relationships with food — reasons behind why we eat it, when we eat it, what we eat and how it makes us feel. We all know that our diet affects our weight and our overall health, but did you also know it can strongly affect your mood and how you feel?


The food we consume has great affects on both the body and brain chemistry, so it's important to choose the right kinds of food and ingredients in order to feel our best.


Specific foods can be used to improve how you feel. Along with the research I've been doing, I've compiled a list of 12 foods that help improve your mood and won't cost a fortune to add to your diet.


1. Turmeric. Turmeric is an inexpensive spice available in grocery stores. It influences the brain by increasing neurotransmitters responsible for feelings of happiness.


2. Tomatoes. The lycopene in tomatoes is linked to the reduction of inflammatory compounds. These compounds affect the mood and lead to depression, so eating tomatoes is a great way to improve how you feel. Cherry tomatoes are recommended over regular tomatoes because they have more lycopene, but all tomatoes have this important nutrient.


3. Beets. This vegetable belongs on the mood boosting grocery list because of betaine. It’s a special compound capable of making antidepressant molecules in the brain and protecting cells from stress. Beets have pigments called betalains that are responsible for the beet's color. These pigments provide health benefits by functioning as antioxidants, lowering inflammation and reducing your risk of heart disease. Studies show that inflammation contributes to depression. Beets improve your mood by slowly releasing sugar as they’re digested.


4. Celery. It’s a popular diet food, but it’s also a great mood enhancer. Celery has 3-n-butylphthalide, the chemical responsible for reducing stress hormones, in large quantities.

5. Asparagus. Its tryptophan levels make it a vegetarian alternative to turkey. Asparagus’ tryptophan contributes to the creation of positive neurotransmitters in the brain. Asparagus’ folate levels also play a role in boosting your mood. Folate is needed to make positive neurotransmitters and studies done on folate levels showed that people with low amounts of folate in their body are more likely to suffer from depression.


6. Swiss chard. Do you want to increase your energy while lifting your mood? Swiss chard helps both of these areas with its magnesium. Magnesium is an essential mineral linked to a happier state of mind. Magnesium helps improve mood and energy by producing and supporting the brain chemical serotonin.


7. Lentils. Lentils are a common budget grocery staple, and they can improve your mood. Lentils are a good source of folate, which we now know helps the brain avoid depression. Lentils also have L-tyrosine. It’s an important amino acid used by the brain to make happy neurotransmitters.


8. Oatmeal. Steel cut or flavored, oatmeal is another way to boost your mood. Oatmeal has high levels of magnesium necessary to stay positive. It also has fiber that reduces blood sugar spikes and prevents mood swings.


9. Honey. Honey can calm your nerves and decrease anxiety. Multiple nutrients in honey are responsible for this effect. Honey enables serotonin production through the amino acid tryptophan. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter which is responsible for a good mood and a healthy sleeping pattern. Glucose and fructose are the main components of honey which get absorbed into your bloodstream and balance your blood-sugar levels, which also prevents mood swings.


10. Eggs. Eggs have the same tryptophan found in turkeys, so they’re an essential part of creating good neurotransmitters in the brain.


11. Vitamin D fortified cereal. Name brands aren’t necessary to get a vitamin D boost from your cereal. A budget-conscious grocery list can include less expensive generic versions as long as they’re fortified with the vitamin. Vitamin D is essential for the creation of serotonin. This neurotransmitter makes you feel happy and calm, so it’s important to get enough vitamin D to make it naturally.


12. Dark chocolate. Bulk and generic versions of dark chocolate are less expensive, so they can fit into our budget grocery list. Dark chocolate lowers the amount of stress hormones in the body. Additionally, its cocoa flavanols make you feel calmer. A study from the Swinburne University of Technology found that eating dark chocolate was linked to better moods.


Incorporating foods that make us feel better has multiple benefits, and it doesn't have to break the bank. Adding these foods to your grocery list is an easy, simple, and inexpensive way to build healthy eating habits that helps us stay positive and control our mood at the same time.

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