If the change in season and weather has you feeling as blue as the skies above, you will be relieved to know that a few spoonfuls of the right foods may turn that frown upside down! While you start to plan your holiday meals, keep in mind that the right foods cannot only make a delicious meal, but keep you and your family happy in the process. Whole foods contain vital nutrients that provide both physical and psychological benefits. Read on to discover which foods contain mood-boosters to help you smile your way to longevity.
Fun With Folate
Eat folate-rich foods: Leafy greens like kale, broccoli, spinach, asparagus, turnip greens, bok choy, legumes, sunflower seeds, oranges, melons, beets, and fortified whole grains.
Why? Folate, also know as folic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin that is necessary for cell division, DNA synthesis, and healthy blood cell production. Research at the University of York and Hull York Medical School has found a link between depression and low levels of folate. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for men and women is 400 micrograms and 600 micrograms for pregnant women. To keep you smiling, increase your intake of folate-rich foods. A cup of cooked lentils provides 90 percent of the RDA of folic acid. Plus, the fiber and protein will satisfy you longer, stabilize blood sugar, and also promote a better mood. Additional bonuses: Folate can also decrease homocysteine, an amino acid that is linked to heart disease. Low levels of folate can cause anemia, while pregnant women must increase their folate levels to prevent fetal neural tube deficiencies.
Boost Your B6
Eat B6 foods: bananas, chicken breast, garlic, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, sunflower seeds, broccoli, red bell peppers, watermelon, avocados, and potatoes.
Why? Vitamin B6 plays a role in red blood cell metabolism, protein metabolism, and synthesis of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. It also helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels, and increases the amount of oxygen carried to your tissues. Low levels can lead to an increase of homocysteine, anemia, headaches, and depression. The RDA for adults from age 19 to 50 is 1.3 mg/day and approximately 1.6 mg for individuals over 50. The next time you’re feeling down, grab a banana and munch your blues away!
Eat omega-3-rich foods: fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel, anchovies, and herring, flaxseeds, walnuts, and algae.
Why? DHA omega-3 essential fatty acid maintains healthy brain function and is vital for fetal brain and eye development. Current research also demonstrates the association between intake of omega-3 fatty acids and depression. A meta-analysis study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that depression was significantly improved in patients with unipolar and bipolar disorders after taking three daily fish capsules for eight weeks. Eat the oily fish listed above – a 3-ounce serving of salmon contains between 1.1 and 1.9 grams of omega-3 fatty acids. Supplementing with high-quality fish oil capsules may be an alternative if you don’t consume fish on a regular basis. Vegetarian sources of omega-3 can be found in flaxseeds, walnuts, and algae. Toss a tablespoon of sunflower seeds or walnuts into a creamy cup of unsweetened low-fat yogurt for a mega mood boost!
Good Carbs, Bad Carbs
Eat good carbs: whole grains, fruits, vegetables.
Why? Not all carbohydrates are created equal. Whole grains, fruits, and veggies supply us with prolonged energy, fiber, and multiple nutrients that our bodies need for optimal health. Good quality carbohydrates can also trigger serotonin synthesis. Recognized as the “happy hormone,” serotonin is an important neurotransmitter that affects our mood and sleep. The next time you feel blue, instead of reaching for that bag of chips or sugary cookies, opt for unrefined, unprocessed carbohydrates that will provide you with sustained energy and an improved mood. Toss that muffin and enjoy a whole grain cracker with a tablespoon of natural nut butter for a delicious and uplifting snack!
May you live long, live strong, and live happy!
Dr. Mao Shing Ni, best known as Dr. Mao is a bestselling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine and board certified anti-aging expert. He has appeared regularly on “Dr. Oz,” “The Doctors,” and “EXTRA.” Dr. Mao practices acupuncture, nutrition and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica and Newport Beach. Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni founded Tao of Wellness more than 25 years ago in addition to also founding Yo San University in Marina del Rey. To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment please call 310.917.2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at [email protected] To subscribe to his tip-filled newsletter please visit www.taoofwellness.com.