Not everything in your life that affects your happiness is something you can control. But your diet? That’s in your hands. Why not use it to your advantage? These 10 foods can increase your overall happiness—from reducing stress and anxiety to stabilizing mood and preventing depression. Go ahead and eat your heart out.
Yes, they really do matter. One study by the British Journal of Health and Psychology found that an increased intake of fruits and veggies results in more energy, calmness and a greater sense of happiness. Another study found that eating more fruits and veggies—7 servings a day, to be exact—can boost your mental well-being.
When it comes to fruits, consider adding bananas to your diet. Not only is the banana a potassium powerhouse, it also contains tryptophan, a chemical that helps regulate mood to fight depression.
For those of us who don’t get enough sleep, we know just how much fatigue can bring us down. If fatigue is getting in the way of your happiness, eat more spinach (and get more sleep). Spinach is rich in folic acid, which alleviates depression and reduces fatigue.
Remember the tryptophan in bananas? Asparagus has it too, which means it can help your brain create serotonin—the chemical you need for stable, long-term happiness. This vegetable is also rich in folate. Research suggests that up to 50% of people with depression suffer from low folate levels.
Don’t worry, this list isn’t all fruits and veggies. Probiotic-rich foods like yogurt can help you overcome a sad mood. One study shows that regularly consuming foods rich in probiotics reduced the participants’ reactivity to sad moods by reducing aggressive thoughts and overthinking.
Stress can be one of the biggest enemies of happiness, and one of the main drivers of snacking. If you find yourself with the munchies because of anxiety, open up a bag of pistachios. Some research suggests that these nuts can lower blood pressure and heart rate, reducing acute stress.
Carbs have gotten a lot of hate in the dieting world, but complex carbohydrates like rice or oatmeal can make a big difference in your mood. A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that a yearlong low-carb diet (only 20 to 40 grams a day) led to increased depression, anxiety and anger versus a diet rich in carbohydrates.
Consider adding a little spice to your life. The antioxidants in turmeric, curcuminoids, can help enhance your mood, with studies showing this spice has antidepressant qualities.
Many of us can’t go a morning without a cup of coffee, and that’s good news for your happiness. One study in JAMA Internal Medicine found women who drink 2 to 3 cups per day were 15% less likely to develop depression over a 10-year period than those who drank 1 cup or less per day.
Not really into coffee? Pour yourself a cup of tea instead. Research shows chamomile tea can significantly decrease anxiety symptoms. Less anxiety means less stress, which means more time for you to be happy.