Feel Good Foods: Mood Boosters

Ever notice how foods affect our moods? When were down we turn to foods to comfort us. However, we tend to turn to the wrong types of foods. Here are a few healthy foods that are sure to pick-up your mood and keep you healthy at the same time. Feel-Good Foods: Mood Bosters


(juice from 1 medium lemon): 12 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g protein

Studies at Ohio State University found that the scent of Lemon Oil improves the mood of participants, though physiologically unexplainable.

Lemon-scented oils and candles can produce a similar effect. Assing lemon to recipes or drinks adds the bonus of vitamins and antioxidents. A lemon provides 33% Daily Value of Vitamin C, as well as phytonutrients that lower bad cholesterol and prevent clogging of arteries.

Quick-prep idea:

Refreshing, citrus-flavored water: slice several lemons and add to a pitcher to keep in your fridge.

Sweetened Lemonade: Grate the rind off of 3 to 4 lemons; squeeze the juice from 8 to 10 lemons; make a simple syrup by dissolving 1 ½ cups sugar in ½ cup of boiling water; stir lemon juice and lemon zest into the simple syrup; pour over 4-5 cups of ice water.



(1 cup): 137 calories, 0 g fat, 14 g protein

According to research,  women moddiness due to PMS in women may have an underlying condition where calcium isn’t used properly by the body during times of low estrogen in the menstrual cycle. 1000 mg of calcium daily effectively alleviates depression and anxiety in women experiencing this condition.
One of th most concentrated sources of Calcium is plain yogurt, haing 488mg per cup. (Nonfat milk has 306 mg per cup.)

Quick-prep idea:

For a truly delightful dessert, pour plain yogurt in a coffee filter, and place it over a bowl. Allow it to drain overnight in the fridge, then when you’re ready to eat it, mix it with 1 Tbs. dried blueberries or cranberries.



(3 oz.): 150 calories, 6 g fat, 22 g protein

High in omega-3, salmon and other fatty fish have been found to promote feelings of well-being. Studies show that people who traditionally eat higher amounts of fish have lower rates of depression.

It is essential for expectant as well as breastfeeding moms to eat low-mercury fish, like salmon. Eat up to 12 ounces of lower-mercury fish per week (a salmon steak can equal 4 to 6 oz.); serve smaller portions to kids.

The daily recommendations for food from the meats and beans food group, which includes fish, is the following (make sure to eat a variety of foods from this food group to satisfy daily needs-and don’t get too hung up on exact amounts):

Kids, 2 to 3 years old: 2 oz.
Kids, 4 to 8 years old: 3 to 4 oz.
Kids, 9 to 13 years old: 5 oz.
Girls, ages 14 to 18 years old: 5 oz.
Boys, ages 14 to 18 years old: 6 oz.
Women, ages 19 to 30 years old: 5.5 oz.
Women, ages 31 to 50 years old: 5 oz.
Men, ages 19 to 30 years: 6.5 oz.
Men, ages 31 to 50 years: 6 oz.

Quick-prep idea:

Mix 2 tsp. Dijon mustard and 1 Tbs. of honey. Pour the dressing over one pound of fresh salmon, then broil for 10 to 20 minutes until the center of the fish is opaque or fully cooked.


Dark Chocolate

(1 oz.): 136 calories, 2 g fiber, 8.5 g fat, 1 g protein

Chocolate evokes fond memories of holidays and happy occassions, but more importantly, effectively releases endorphins, which elevate one’s mood. Significant amounts of antioxidant flavanols improve blood flow in the brain.

Quick-prep idea:

Add mini, semisweet chocolate chips to your trail mix. Or melt a few pieces of dark chocolate in the microwave to use as a dip for strawberries.

Remember though, that chocolates are not a replacement for balanced meals. Fruits and Vegetables are also important sources of anti-oxidants, with the plus factor of not having the fat and sugar. Eat choclate in moderation and try eating dark instead of milk chocolate.


Whole Wheat Cinnamon Toast

(1 slice whole wheat bread with 1 tsp. sugar): 90 calories, 2 g fiber, 1 g fat

Studies show that the mood of women who crave carbs after eating them. It is suggested that this is due to the release of serotonin in the brain. A piece of wholewheat toast (without butter of course) can satisfy the craving for sweet carbs, while providing fiber from the bread and antioxidants from the spice.

Quick-prep idea:

Toast a slice of whole wheat bread, sprinkle it with cinnamon, then top it with a teaspoon of honey or powdered sugar.



(1/4 cup chopped): 190 calories, 2 g fiber, 19 g fat, 4.5 g protein

This is the only nut that contains significant amounts of Omega-3, which is an essential component of cell membranes. Omega-3 is also important for the functioning of brain cells.
Walnuts also have higher amounts of antioxidants compared to other nuts.

Quick-prep idea:

Sprinkle walnuts over spinach salad with diced pears. Or add them to oatmeal.


Whole Grain Cereal

(1 cup, depending on the brand you eat): 120 to 200 calories, 4 to 14 g fiber, 0 to 3 g fat

Not only excellent sources offiber and antioxidants, Whol Grains are rich in thiamin, which is important in maintaining a healthy nervous system,a s well as the metabolization of carbohydrates. Thiamin also elevates mood. They are also a good, beneficial snack to munch on when stressed, as compared to munching on greasy potato chips.

Quick-prep idea: Mix a cup of whole grain cereal with a cup of fruit yogurt for a refreshing and filling breakfast or afternoon snack. Stir together cereal with nuts, dried fruit, and chocolate chips for a make-your-own trail mix.



Nutrition facts (1 cup): 0 calories, 0 g fat

According to studies, coffee, in moderate doses, can benefit your mood and vigor. Caffeine blocks adenosine, a natural sedative that makes you sleepy. Stick to 1-2 cups daily, as more than 4 cups (or 500 mg of caffeine) can cause jitters and result in grogginess. Keep kids away from this as they have more than enough energy anyway.

Quick prep idea: Steer clear of fancy mochas or drinks that end in "chinno" at coffeehouses-they’ll cause calories to skyrocket. For a make-your-own mochachinno, mix 2 Tbs of chocolate soymilk into a cup of java; top with a sprinkle of cocoa powder.



Nutrition facts (4 oz. seafood): 112 calories, 1 g fat, 24 g protein

Deficiency of the Trace Mineral (meaning you don’t need a lot of it each day) Selenium has been associated with decline of metal capability, anxiety, and depression. A study has shown that high-selenium diets for 15 weeks resulted in more confident, clear-headed, and elated individuals.

The recommended daily amount of selenium for adults is is 55 mcg. Four ounces of shrimp (6 to 7 large ones) and crab (3/4 cup) have 45 mcg of selenium, and 4 oz. of lobster (3/4 cup) has 48 mcg. Moreover, seafood contains small amounts of omega-3s.

Quick-prep idea: Brush seafood with garlic-infused olive oil and place on a hot grill. Then cook for 1 to 2 minutes per side. Next, squeeze fresh lemon over top and serve over cooked brown rice or whole wheat pasta.

Note: The recommen
ded daily amounts of selenium for kids are (again, don’t get hooked on the amounts, but it’s good to have an idea of how much to aim for):

Ages 1 to 3 years: 20 mcg
Ages 4 to 8 years: 30 mcg
Ages 9 to 13 years: 40 mcg
Ages 14 and older: 55 mcg


Grape Juice

Nutrition facts (1 cup): 150 calories, 0 g fat

Flavanols, a natural antioxidant found in purple grape juice, may improve blood flow to the brain, which can help maintain memory and improve one’s mood.

Quick-prep ideas: Pour juice into ice pop containers and freeze (or you can use paper cups with a lid and straw). When frozen, turn over the containers and shake out the ice pop for a treat your kids will love too.


Lean Beef

Nutrition facts (3 oz. top sirloin): 150 calories, 5 g fat, 2 g sat fat, 26 g protein

Daily doses of Vitamin B12 may prevent depression. Found in red meat, B12 is essential in producing red blood cells and serotonin, and helps enable the nerves and brain to function well. Three ounces of beef contains 37 percent of an adult’s daily needs for B12.

If you think red meat is full of fat and cholesterol, you should know that lean cuts such as sirloin, top round, and strip steak have just slightly more saturated fat than a skinless chicken breast.

Quick-prep idea: Throw thinly sliced beef tenderloin into a sauté pan with olive oil and garlic. Cook until no longer pink (1 to 2 minutes per side), then add vegetables (peppers, onions, spinach, etc.) and a splash of reduced-sodium soy sauce. Cook the dish for a few more minutes.


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