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All about mood-enhancing foods

Last updated on: September 21, 2012 19:05 IST

All about mood-enhancing foods

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Courtesy HealthCareMagic.com

If you are agitated and irritable and can't really blame your boss, spouse, colleague or client for it, maybe it's time to take a look at your eating habits.

Your diet can affect the way you think and feel in at least two distinct ways. One is by influencing the chemical messengers in your brain and second, through its effect on your blood sugar level. So let's take a look at the kind of food that can keep you in a good mood.

The right breakfast

A good breakfast is the key to keeping you in a good mood throughout the day.

A mood enhancing breakfast should have the right carbohydrates, such as whole wheat breads and breakfast cereals. Broken wheat (daliya) is an easily available whole grain. Whole grains are important because they are absorbed slowly and keep your blood sugar levels stable. Swinging blood sugar is a common cause of irritability. In addition, carbohydrates boost the supply of tryptophan in the brain, which in turn boosts serotonin synthesis.


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Plenty of water

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Another common cause of irritability and fatigue is dehydration. Keep a bottle of water handy and make sure that you drink water at regular intervals.

Tea, coffee and soft drinks are not substitutes for water. However, munching on some fruits such as apples and oranges can help you stay better hydrated.


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Green leafy vegetables

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Leafy greens are good sources of folate. Folate deficiency has been linked with depression in some studies.

You can ensure that your diet is not folate-deficient by regularly consuming some spinach, lettuce, and other leafy greens. Nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashew nuts) and legumes (all dals and peas) are also good sources of folate.


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Fish and walnuts

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The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids are endless! You know that they are good for your heart and your arteries. Now scientists have found that they also influence metabolic pathways in your brain and can combat depression.

Given all the benefits of omega-3s, it makes perfect sense to include some rich sources such as fish and walnuts in your diet.


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Lean meats

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Lean meats such as chicken, pork and beef provide an amino acid called tyrosine. Tyrosine boosts the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, brain messengers that can help you feel more alert and focused.

Meats also provide Vitamin B12, which fights insomnia and depression.


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Dark chocolate

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Now we all know that this one is a quick and utterly desirable mood booster. It provides two chemicals, caffeine and theobromine, that have a mood-enhancing effect. Have the darkest variety of chocolate that you can find for maximum benefit.


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Baked or mashed potato

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Baked or mashed potato can be a quick fix for a foul mood because it causes the release of serotonin in your brain. However, fried potato chips do not have the same effect because of the accompanying fat.


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Seafood

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Seafood such as oysters, sardines, clams, crab and fish produce a mood-enhancing effect by supplying plenty of selenium. Selenium has been shown to have an antidepressant effect in research studies. Thankfully, many of the other healthy foods such as nuts, legumes, and whole grains are also good sources of selenium.


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