Feeling down in the dumps? Boost your mood with food! Put a little more spring in your step by adding the following six foods to your diet:
• Wild salmon and shrimp: Studies compared mood disorders in three countries and found that populations that eat the most fish have the lowest rates of depression, bipolar disorder, postpartum depression and seasonal affective disorder. Fish is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to alleviate depression in more than 60 percent of pregnant women.
• Cherry tomatoes: High in lycopene, the world's most popular berry -- yes, you read that right -- helps maintain mood by preventing proinflammatory compounds from forming. Tomatoes also contain mood enhancers such as folate and magnesium, as well as iron, tryptophan and vitamin B-6, which are needed to produce the important mood-regulating neurotransmitters seratonin, dopamine and norepinephrine.
• Chili peppers: Peppers are made spicy by the fat-soluble molecule, capsaicin. The brain responds to the heat of capsaicin by releasing endorphins, neurotransmitters responsible for excitement and happiness. The chemical also works to protect the brain during liver failure.
• Watermelon: Did you know there are more than 1,200 types of watermelon? The rind contains citrulline, which is known to relax blood vessels and to rid the brain of ammonia residues that damage neurons. Plus, this refreshing fruit packs more lycopene than a tomato!
• Beets: This root vegetable is one of the best sources of vitamin B folate as well as betaine, a chemical compound used by the brain to form natural antidepressants. Beets also contain uridine, which stimulates the production of phosphytidylcholine, the building blocks of the brain's synaptic connections. And last but not least, beets contain betalains, pigments found in plants that detoxify the body and reduce inflammation. Studies show betalains may suppress tumor growth.
• Garlic: This pungent vegetable relaxes blood vessels, decreases blood pressure and enhances the release of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. It also contains chromium, which is needed for proper response to the hormone, insulin.
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