Diet, Disease, Health Studies, Healthy Foods, Mental Health

9 Foods to Fight Inflammation and Boost Your Mood

We all lead busy lives these days. Frequently, our eating patterns reflect that, as we unconsciously reach for snacks that may not be the ideal fuel. Too often we choose foods that not only fail to provide solid nourishment; they also have a negative effect on our mood.

Junk foods are the cause of a silent, chronic inflammation that undermines health, as well as bringing us down. Fortunately, healthier snacks reduce inflammation, and they also stabilize our moods. Here are some foods you can enjoy without guilt:

1. Yogurt

Research shows yogurt increases serotonin, the “feel good” neurotransmitter. Additionally, fermented and cultured foods support gut health, and the gut is where most of the body’s serotonin is located. Other fermented foods to try include kefir, raw sauerkraut, pickles and kimchee. These will give you mood support, and they deliver beneficial bacterial to protect your gut and fight inflammation.

2. Turkey

Turkey is high in tryptophan, an amino acid that is a precursor of serotonin. It is also rich in a mineral called selenium, which has anti-inflammatory properties and protects against depression.

3. Asparagus

This vegetable is rich in folic acid, which boosts mood while fighting the lack of energy and foggy thinking that often accompany depression. Try dipping asparagus spears in seasoned yogurt for a double dose of health.

4. Dark, leafy greens

Greens like spinach, kale and collard greens are high in magnesium, which supports a feeling of calm and is important to the development of serotonin.

5. Roasted cherry tomatoes

The skin of tomatoes contains a powerful phytonutrient called lycopene, which fights inflammation. Cherry tomatoes are smaller, so they contain more skin. Roasting tomatoes also increases the level of lycopene.

6. Wild salmon

Salmon is rich in omega 3 fats, which protect against depression while also reversing inflammation. Omega 3s are critical for brain health, and because they are not made by the body, you need to get them from food.

7. Dark chocolate

Studies show dark cocoa powder reduces depression and improves cognition. Enjoy one and a half ounces of 70 percent dark chocolate every day to reduce the stress hormone cortisol as well as C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation.

8. Green tea

Green tea is a source of theanine, an amino acid that reduces stress and relaxes muscles. Green tea also contains anti-inflammatory properties, and increases metabolism.

9. Chickpeas

Chickpeas are rich in tryptophan, folate and vitamin B6, which all lessen inflammation and boost mood. Throw some chickpeas in a salad, or combine them with tahini to make hummus. Tahini, made from ground sesame seed, provides an extra boost of magnesium.