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Foods for Your Moods
Photo: Pablo Rios
Have you ever had one of those days? You know what I’m talking about—you get up in the morning wishing you hadn’t, and the day goes downhill from there. The sun is shining and the birds are singing, but you just can’t seem to shake the blues. You’re feeling really bummed, and you don’t know why. You ask yourself, “What is going on here?”

Well, it could be something is missing from your diet. Certain foods, if eaten on a regular basis, can help make your world a much happier place. No, I’m not talking about chocolate or sugar. They pick you up temporarily, but then let you crash. Quite often you feel worse after a big bowl of ice cream than you did before. No, when it comes to dealing with depression, you need a long-term fix, not a short-term solution. Foods high in things like tryptophan, omega-3 fatty acids, folate, and vitamin B6 can help. Here are some delicious sources for these important ingredients:

Almonds – These tasty little nuts are high in tryptophan, which your body needs to produce serotonin, the chemical in your brain that affects your moods. Other sources are tofu, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and walnuts. Even milk has small quantities.

Spinach – It turns out there was a reason Popeye always felt better after downing a can of spinach. This delicious vegetable is packed with omega-3 fatty acid. Now, don’t be scared by that word “fatty.” Not all fat is bad. Fatty acids like omega-3 are essential for good health—and for good moods.

Flaxseed, walnuts, wheat-germ oil, and tofu have even more omega-3. Avocados and soybeans are other good sources. Fish contain omega-3, but they also may be filled with nasty stuff like mercury and pesticides.

Black-eyed Peas – (the food, not the singing group!) This good mood food, along with other legumes like lentils and navy beans, is high in folate, another necessary ingredient in a depression-free diet. Spanish peanuts, fresh orange juice, and spinach have lots of folate, too.

Bananas – The perfect fast food, this sweet treat comes in an easy-to-open package. It also just happens to be filled with vitamin B6, a necessary vitamin for fighting the blues. Sweet bell peppers, artichoke hearts, sunflower seeds, and lentils are also loaded with vitamin B6.

Milk – Fortified milk contains vitamin B12, an ingredient missing from many people’s diets. Other good sources are egg whites, dry cereal, fortified soy milk, and organically grown vegetables.

Unfortunately, no food will cure the blues. Depression is a nasty beast. It can mess up your day and if ignored, ruin your life. If you’re feeling down on a regular basis, see your doctor or a professional counselor soon. And if you’re thinking about suicide, get help today!

At the same time, remember that a healthy body is important for a happy mind. So get up and take a walk, Get outside in the fresh air and sunshine. Drink some water. And eat plenty of the “Good Mood Foods” You’ll be glad you did!

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By Richard G. Edison, PA-C. Reprinted with permission from Listen, October 2006. Copyright © 2010 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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