For those of us who can’t lounge on a tropical beach year-round, staying upbeat and motivated through all of life’s challenges can send us running straight for the sugary pick-me-ups. But of course, that midday donut sets blood sugar up for an emotional crash later. Thankfully, the right balance of exercise and naturally mood-boosting foods can make you at least feel like you’re on that pristine beach. With the vitamins and nutrients your brain needs to keep the positive vibes flowing no matter what your week has in store, these foods will give you a leg up on the blues:
Healthy eaters go wild for avocados, and who can blame them? For avocado aficionados, it’s hard to even look at the bright green fruit without feeling a little burst of glee. Packed with brain-supporting folic acid, omega-3s, and vitamin B6, avocados are on a mission to make people happy. You probably already have a favorite way to enjoy them, but try mixing it up with this delicious chocolate and avocado smoothie recipe. Now that’s the sweet life!
Turmeric, known as curcumin in the science world, has a vibrant golden color to match its sunny effects on your disposition. A central spice in Indian cuisine, turmeric boasts uplifting powers on a similar level to the antidepressant Prozac. It also doesn’t hurt that this member of the ginger family is anti-inflammatory and antibacterial as well. Turmeric is best absorbed when mixed with a bit of black pepper, so try sprinkling some in your sauces, smoothies, or salad dressings.
Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which help your brain replenish its cells. Omega-3 fatty acid is what’s referred to as an “essential” fat. That means your body doesn’t produce it naturally, so it’s a super-important part of any healthy diet. Whether you’re into lox on a morning bagel, sashimi with a side of wasabi, or a simple grilled fillet, you’ll be doing your mood a favor anytime you incorporate salmon into your diet.
Recent years have seen an upswing of research into the link between happiness and a healthy bacterial system in the body. A person’s ecosystem of microbial flora, known as the microbiome, is unique to every individual. The right types of friendly bacteria in the gut can help fight depression, balance sleep patterns, aid in maintaining a healthy weight, and make sure you absorb the most vitamins from your diet. Probiotic foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, miso, and kombucha are all great mood-boosters. Kombucha’s effervescence and vinegary flavor make it an invigorating choice to add some kick to your day.
Bananas provide your brain with a serving of tryptophan, the precursor of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Normally associated with the post-Thanksgiving-turkey high, tryptophan promotes feelings of well-being. Bananas also offer calming B vitamins and potassium for brainpower. They keep your blood sugar levels on an even plane between meals, so take full advantage of their portable nature.
Aside from preventing Alzheimer’s and type 2 diabetes, coffee’s antioxidant powers can do more than just perk you up for a few hours. Studies have found that drinking coffee can reduce your likeliness of depression by 10 percent. Enjoy the increased mental focus coffee gives you in the short-term and the blues-fighting help it offers in the long run as well.
Who doesn’t love chocolate? You probably don’t need scientists to tell you it inspires happiness. But it’s great to know that the cocoa in chocolate offers multiple benefits for your body from its antioxidant flavonoids — so the darker the chocolate, the better. Tryptophan, phenethylamine, and theobromine are some of the compounds that make us feel so blissed-out. Keep some at your desk in case of chocolate emergencies. But remember: not all chocolate is created equal. Choose natural, high-cocoa, low-sugar options to reap the benefits.
Want to incorporate more of these cheer-inducing ingredients into your diet, but don’t always have time to prepare and cook a meal? Svelte plant-based protein shakes make a perfect breakfast or on-the-go snack. You can feel great about the fact that they’re certified organic, vegan, gluten-free, and non-GMO as well. Svelte’s family of flavors incorporates some of your favorite mood-boosters, from the real pureed banana in Svelte Banana Crème to the organic coffee and pure cocoa in Svelte Cappuccino and Svelte Chocolate.
Combining these foods with a healthy exercise regime, not to mention a hug from your bestie, can do wonders for your outlook. What do you eat to keep that sunny-side-up feeling? Share your recommendations in the comments below, and head to the Drink Svelte Pinterest page for even more healthy tips and recipes.