You’ve heard that food is medicine, but do you use it as such? It’s easy to forget that cooking with and noshing on the right ingredients can give your body and brain a scientifically proven pick-me-up. The same way that eating the wrong things (like processed carbs, fried food, or allergens) will make you feel cranky, tired, and all-around crappy, eating the right things can give you more energy, equilibrium, and focus.
If you’re looking to eat for your health and happiness, these 10 recipes—all packed with proven mood-enhancing ingredients—are a great place to start.
Vitamin-D deficiency has been linked to depression, so to lower your risk, make sure you're getting the recommended daily intake of 15 mcg. This omelet, with vitamin-D-filled feta and spinach, is a good start.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been proven again and again to be vital mood-improvers and stabilizers—and fish are an ideal source. Try this Thai coconut curry shrimp noodle bowl to get the recommended daily dose of 1.1 grams.
How Sweet It Is
Sometimes when you feel down, carbs do help, since they can trigger a flood of feel-good serotonin in your brain. But you're a lot better off getting them from nutrient-rich quinoa and sweet potatoes than chips or cookies—so cook up this roasted kale and sage quinoa skillet.
With Food and Love
Peanuts are packed with healthy fats, B vitamins, and protein, all of which can help keep your energy up and irritability at bay—and this West African peanut soup is an unusually delicious way to eat them.
Cookie + Kate
A rare natural source of monounsaturated fat, avocados may help indirectly spur the production of positive brain chemicals, including dopamine and endorphins. This creamy avocado pasta will definitely lift your mood, too.
Vitamin B6 helps regulate our brain functions—emotions included—so be sure to get your daily intake of 1.3 mg. This skillet chicken is a great source of B6 and energizing protein. Bonus: The creamy sauce contains mushrooms, another immune-system and mood booster.
Bananas contain B6, vitamins A and C, fiber, tryptophan, iron, and other important nutrients. They'll give you a quick energy spike with their natural sugar, and the fiber will help sustain it. Iron and tryptophan will help fight fatigue and low mood, too. Get all that from these home-baked banana chips.
Not getting enough iron is common for women, and it can make you foggy, tired, and irritable. Lean red meat is an excellent way to get that recommended 18mg per day—as is this 20-minute Beijing beef recipe.
La Creme de la Crumb
This avocado and grapefruit salad has two fruits that are rich in feel-good B vitamins and fiber. Just be sure to check and make sure you can eat grapefruit if you're on antidepressants, as it can inhibit some meds' effectiveness.
Pinch of Yum
Last but not least, an important reminder: Dehydration is a major mood killer. Even mild dehydration has been found to cause serious dips in energy, ability to focus, and patience. If you need something to get you excited about H2O again, try this strawberry, lime, cucumber, and mint–infused water recipe.
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