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Crank-Proof Your Diet: 5 Good-Mood Foods

Do you have a short fuse when it comes to dealing with life’s everyday stressors, such as your boss, your spouse, or even your kids? Do you reach for food or caffeine during the day in an attempt to feel calm, or find a jolt of energy or a moment of bliss? But above all else, do you just really crave a better mood? If you want to feel significantly less cranky, then read on.

Seek Energy Not Stimulation

While good habits such as eating breakfast every morning and regular meals and snacks throughout the day form the cornerstone of an energized outlook, science has increasingly revealed the vital ways in which our food impacts our mood. And it may surprise you that some of the best weapons to help cure crankiness can be found in your local grocery store.

Salmon

In order for your brain to function optimally, it needs to have the right nutrient building blocks available, and omega-3 fats are one of the most important when it comes to boosting your mood. The brain is 60% fat, and particularly loves omega-3 fats. Most Americans get far too little omega-3 in their diet. And what’s the problem with that? Growing evidence suggests that consuming inadequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids is associated with depression and poor moods. Fatty fish like salmon is one of nature’s richest sources of omega-3 fats; for a mood lift, enjoy fatty fish 2-3 times each week.

Mushrooms Exposed to UV Light

Vitamin D is another key part of “mood maintenance” because it helps regulate the activity of the brain’s neurotransmitters (serotonin, melatonin and dopamine) which have a profound impact on mood. Studies have found the likelihood of having depression is significantly higher in people with a deficiency in vitamin D compared to those who have normal levels. Chances are, you or someone you know might be deficient and not even know it (a blood test is required); by some estimates, over 50% of Americans are deficient in vitamin D, making it a critical component in a crank-proof diet.

While it can be difficult to meet the RDA for vitamin D through food alone (600 IU for people ages 19-70), one fantastic food that has recently come to a supermarket near you is vitamin D-packed mushrooms.

Tart Cherries

Savor a handful of dried tart cherries before you turn in for the night and you’ll set the stage for a better mood when you wake up. Tart cherries are rich in a hormone called melatonin, which acts as a natural sleep aid by improving quality of sleep. As we age, our body’s natural ability to produce melatonin decreases (one reason why seniors can find it harder to sleep soundly), and things like stress or artificial light can also lower melatonin. Here’s an added bonus: cherries’ powerful bundle of antioxidants helps protect your brain from free radicals, which enables your brain chemistry to be optimized for a good mood.

Amaranth

Amaranth is a delicious “ancient grain” to try if you haven’t yet added it to your shopping list. This supergrain is loaded with antioxidants, minerals, fiber and iron, and was considered a life-sustaining food of the ancient Aztec and Inca cultures. Whole grains are a key part of any crank-proof diet, as the carbohydrates in whole grains help raise levels of the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin, which acts as the body’s natural antidepressant.

For a fun twist, try amaranth popcorn: Simply put a dry medium skillet over medium high heat, and when hot, add 2 tbsp amaranth seeds. COVER QUICKLY with a lid so it doesn’t pop everywhere! Gently shake back and forth, and the grains will quickly pop into “micro popcorn” in about 10 seconds. Pour into a dish and repeat with another 2 tbsp. Dust with cinnamon for an added antioxidant and flavor boost.

Medjool Dates

Nearly all of the cranky viewers Dr. Oz and I spoke with sought out sweets at some point during their day. Who doesn’t like to feel that quick pick-me-up that sweetness can bring? The downside is the sheer amount most of us are eating: Americans consume more than 22 teaspoons of sugar each day, according to a 2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. While the initial rush of sugar can indeed perk you up, it ultimately leads to that inevitable crash and the crankiness that comes with it. A sweeter fix for your sweet tooth is to try medjool dates. Their rich, creamy texture and super-sweet taste still give you that rush of satisfying pleasure. But unlike that candy bar, dates are chockfull of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to keep your energy up in a more sustained way.

Check out the full article here at Dr. Oz’s Website

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