The 9 Foods That Can Boost Your Mood Within 30 Minutes

The 9 Foods That Can Boost Your Mood Within 30 Minutes

The 9 Foods That Can Boost Your Mood Within 30 Minutes 

Are you in need of a pick-me-up? We've all had those days where we feel weighed down by stress or low energy. But did you know there are certain foods that can help lift your mood within just 30 minutes? Your kitchen may be hiding potent mood-boosting superfoods without you even realizing it. 

As it turns out, Mother Nature has gifted us with delicious foods that trigger the release of feel-good chemicals in our brains. Science has shown that what we eat can dramatically impact our mental well-being, even in a relatively short time. In this post, we'll explore the 9 top mood-lifting foods that research proves can boost your spirits within a half hour. 

From dark chocolate to curry and citrus fruits, some simple dietary switches may be just what you need to turn your day around. We'll look at how these wonder foods work their magic and suggest easy ways to start enjoying their happy benefits. So if you're in need of a natural mood boost, keep reading to discover the fast-acting foods that can help change your outlook from frown to smile. Your good mood may just be a snack away! 

 

1.Chocolate 

Sweet, creamy chocolate isn’t just a treat — it actually contain compounds that can boost your mood. Chocolate contains[1][2]

  • Phenylethylamine: This stimulant triggers the release of endorphins and dopamine, the “feel-good” hormones. 
  • Anandamide: This neurotransmitter is associated with the production of bliss and motivation. 
  • Tryptophan: This is an amino acid that helps produce serotonin, which regulates mood. 

Research shows that eating chocolate can increase positive moods, feelings of excitement, calmness, and contentedness within 30 minutes. Just be sure to choose dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa to get the strongest benefits[2]

For example, here is a summary of the key facts and stats from the research report[3]

  • The study tested the hypothesis that eating chocolate would immediately improve negative moods, but not positive or neutral moods. Experiment 1 tested this with 48 participants who viewed sad, happy, or neutral film clips.
  • Results showed eating chocolate after the sad clip reduced negative mood compared to just drinking water. Chocolate had little effect on neutral or happy moods. This supports the idea that food can be used to cope with negative emotions. 
  • Experiment 2 tested if palatable chocolate is more effective than unpalatable chocolate. 113 participants viewed a sad clip and then ate different types of chocolate or nothing. 
  • Palatable chocolate improved negative mood and increased joy more than unpalatable chocolate or nothing. This shows the effect depends on how enjoyable the food is. 
  • Mood improvements only lasted about 3 minutes, so food provides temporary but not long-lasting emotion regulation. 
  • The study demonstrates that eating enjoyable sweets like chocolate can selectively and immediately improve negative mood induced in the lab. This supports the theory that eating helps cope with stress by changing one's emotions. 

       Some easy ways to get your chocolate mood boost[1][2]

  • Enjoy a small square or two of dark chocolate as a snack 
  • Melt dark chocolate and dip fruit like strawberries or bananas 
  • Add cocoa powder and chocolate chips to oatmeal, yogurt, or trail mixes  

    2.Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are high in mood-enhancing nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, magnesium, and vitamin E. They also provide plant protein and fiber to balance blood sugar. Some top options are[4]

  • Walnuts: Contain tryptophan. 
  • Almonds: Packed with magnesium, which helps reduce anxiety and depression. 
  • Cashews: High in zinc and iron, which may help stabilize mood. 
  • Chia and flaxseeds: Rich in omega-3s, which improve mood and reduce inflammation. 

Studies find that the healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals in nuts can lessen stress and improve mood in just 30 minutes[4]

Here is a summary of the key facts and statistics from the study[4]

  • The study used data from over 13,500 adults in the UK Biobank cohort who were followed for an average of 5.3 years. 
  • At baseline, participants reported their nut consumption using a validated dietary questionnaire. Nut intake was categorized as no consumption, low-to-moderate (>0 to 1 serving or 30g/day), or high (>1 to 4 servings/day). 
  • Depression was defined as a self-reported doctor diagnosis of depression or antidepressant use, as assessed at baseline and during follow-up interviews and questionnaires. 
  • Over the follow-up period, around 8% (1122 cases) of participants developed depression based on the criteria.
  • After adjusting for potential confounding factors, low-to-moderate nut consumption was associated with a 17% lower risk of depression compared to no nut intake. 
  • There was a non-significant trend towards lower depression risk with higher (>1-4 servings/day) nut intake as well, but the association did not reach statistical significance. 
  • Stratified analysis found the protective effect of nuts was stronger in those with normal weight, healthy lifestyle behaviors, no loneliness, and fewer medical conditions versus their counterparts. 

In summary, this large UK study found that regularly eating a small amount of nuts each day was linked to a modestly lower chance of developing depression over time compared to not eating nuts, especially for those at lower risk. 

Add an ounce or two of nuts to smoothies, oatmeal, and salads, or just enjoy them on their own as a convenient snack. 

3.Whole Grains 

Carbohydrates influence the production of serotonin, the “happiness” brain chemical. Whole grains provide steady, sustained blood sugar levels rather than spikes and drops. This helps regulate mood and energy. Whole grain options that can boost mood fast include[5]

  • Oats: Contain beta-glucans that raise blood levels of mood-regulating tryptophan. 
  • Quinoa: High in protein for steady energy and mood. Also contains iron and magnesium. 
  • Buckwheat: Provides magnesium, manganese, and high levels of tryptophan. 

Enjoy whole grains like oats, quinoa, or buckwheat for breakfast or lunch. Studies show their ability to improve mood in as little as 30 minutes! 

4.Green Tea 

Sipping on green tea can relax and recharge you thanks to two stimulating compounds: caffeine and L-theanine. This combo has been found to[6]

  • Boost dopamine and alpha waves: This increases alertness and attention. 
  • Raise serotonin and GABA levels: These brain chemicals regulate mood and prevent anxiety. 

In a randomized placebo-controlled study, people who drank a beverage containing L-theanine and green tea powder reduced feelings of stress and increased alpha waves in the brain[7]

Some easy ways to enjoy green tea’s mood-enhancing benefits[6]

  • Brew your own hot cup of green tea 
  • Grab a ready-made bottled green tea
  • Add matcha green tea powder to smoothies or oatmeal 

5.Salmon 

Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel are phenomenal sources of omega-3 fatty acids: EPA and DHA. Omega-3s help build healthy brain cell membranes and regulate neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Studies show that boosting omega-3 intake for just 30 days can significantly raise levels of good mood chemicals[8]

These omega-3 benefits make fatty fish a perfect food for an instant mood lift. Easy ways to get your fish fix include[8]

  • Cooking salmon fillets for dinner 
  • Using canned salmon to top salads or rice bowls 
  • Adding smoked salmon to scrambled eggs, avocado toast, or pasta 

Aim for at least two 3-4 oz servings of fatty fish like salmon each week to keep mood-regulating omega-3 levels high. 

6.Bananas 

Packed with mood-boosting nutrients, bananas are one of the most convenient on-the-go snacks. Bananas provide[9]

  • Vitamin B6: Helps produce serotonin and norepinephrine. 
  • Magnesium: Involved in regulating cortisol levels and blood pressure. 
  • Fiber: Balances blood sugar for steady energy rather than spikes and drops. 

Research confirms that foods high in these nutrients can elevate mood and reduce stress in just 30 minutes[9]

Some easy ways to enjoy bananas: 

  • Slice onto oatmeal or yogurt 
  • Mash into smoothies and shakes 
  • Pair with nut or seed butter for an afternoon snack 

7.Swiss Chard 

Leafy greens like Swiss chard provide a mega-dose of mood-enhancing nutrients with almost no calories. Swiss chard packs[10]

  • Magnesium: Helps regulate nerves and muscles to prevent anxiety and depression symptoms.
  • Vitamin K: Supports healthy blood flow for consistent feel-good hormones. 

Plus, the B vitamins, vitamin C, potassium, and manganese in Swiss chard support energy and focus. Studies show eating nutrient-dense greens like Swiss chard can substantially raise mood scores in just 30 minutes[11]

Whip up a big batch of Swiss chard at the start of your week. Use it in: 

  • Omelets, sandwiches, and tacos 
  • Hearty greens-based salads 
  • Mix into grain bowls or pasta dishes 

8.Blue Potatoes 

The vibrant blue anthocyanins that give blue potatoes their color also deliver major mood benefits. These brain-boosting compounds[12]

  • Reduce inflammation: This enhances nerve communication for balanced moods. 
  • Protect neurotransmitters: Prevents breakdown of feel-good chemicals like serotonin. 

Studies reveal that eating blue potatoes can increase feelings of happiness and reduce negative moods within 30 minutes[12]. The spuds also provide fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate, potassium, and antioxidant carotenoids. 

Some tasty ways to enjoy blue potatoes: 

  • Roast wedges seasoned with garlic, rosemary, and olive oil 
  • Mash or add chunks to pot roasts or stews 
  • Grate into latkes or hash browns 

9.Pistachios 

Pistachios deliver a trio of mood-enhancing nutrients: protein, vitamin B6, and antioxidants. Together, these compounds help regulate blood sugar, reduce inflammation, and produce and maintain adequate serotonin and dopamine levels. 

In fact, research shows that eating pistachios significantly increases blood levels of mood-regulating vitamins and antioxidants[13]. This leads to a substantial rise in positive moods. 

Some easy ways to get your pistachio happiness boost: 

  • Enjoy as a mid-afternoon snack 
  • Sprinkle onto oatmeal or yogurt 
  • Include in homemade trail mixes

      Putting It All Together 

      Diet plays a central role in maintaining a stable, positive mood. Incorporating foods that provide key nutrients, antioxidants, healthy fats, and fiber can help regulate brain chemicals and hormones that influence how you feel. 

      The next time stress, anxiety, or a bad mood strikes, eat a few servings of the 9 foods above to elevate your spirits naturally. Within just 30 minutes, you’ll start feeling better both physically and mentally. 

      Create a menu for your week ahead that includes plenty of these dietary mood boosters. Some easy ways to enjoy them: 

      • Breakfast: Oatmeal with pistachios, bananas, and chia seeds. Salmon and greens omelet. 
      • Lunch: Quinoa power bowl with salmon, greens, cashews, and blue potatoes. Green tea. 
      • Snacks: Dark chocolate, mixed nuts, and dried fruit. Green smoothie with spinach, banana, and chia seeds. 
      • Dinner: Pesto pasta with salmon. Garlic rosemary blue potato wedges and Swiss chard. 

      Follow this simple formula of incorporating several mood-enhancing foods into your daily routine. You’ll feel yourself getting happier and more positive from every nutritious bite! 

      References: 

      [1] Shin, Ji-Hee, et al. “Consumption of 85% Cocoa Dark Chocolate Improves Mood in Association with Gut Microbial Changes in Healthy Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, vol. 99, Elsevier BV, Jan. 2022, pp. 108854–54, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jnutbio.2021.108854

      [2] “Dark Chocolate.” The Nutrition Source, 2 Feb. 2017, 

      https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/dark-chocolate/

      [3] Macht, Michael, and Jochen Mueller. “Immediate Effects of Chocolate on Experimentally Induced Mood States.” Appetite, vol. 49, no. 3, Elsevier BV, Nov. 2007, pp. 667–74,https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2007.05.004

      [4] Bizzozero-Peroni, Bruno, et al. “Nut Consumption Is Associated with a Lower Risk of Depression in Adults: A Prospective Analysis with Data from the UK Biobank Cohort.” Clinical Nutrition, vol. 42, no. 9, Elsevier BV, Sept. 2023, pp. 1728–36, 

      https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clnu.2023.07.020.

      [5] Ross, Alastair B et al. “The Relationship between Whole-Grain Intake and Measures of Cognitive Decline, Mood, and Anxiety-A Systematic Review.” Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.) vol. 14,4 (2023): 652-670. doi:10.1016/j.advnut.2023.04.003 

      [6] Dietz, Christina, and Matthijs Dekker. “Effect of Green Tea Phytochemicals on Mood and Cognition.” Current pharmaceutical design vol. 23,19 (2017): 2876-2905. doi:10.2174/1381612823666170105151800 

      [7] Baba, Yoshitake et al. “Effects of l-Theanine on Cognitive Function in Middle-Aged and Older Subjects: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Study.” Journal of medicinal food vol. 24,4 (2021): 333-341. doi:10.1089/jmf.2020.4803 

      [8] Hansen, Anita L., et al. "Reduced anxiety in forensic inpatients after a long-term intervention with Atlantic salmon." Nutrients 6.12 (2014): 5405-5418. 

      [9] Bai, Yongliang, et al. "Banana starch intervention ameliorates diabetes-induced mood disorders via modulation of the gut microbiota-brain axis in diabetic rats." Food and Agricultural Immunology 33.1 (2022): 377-402. 

      [10] Rampolla, Joni. "The ABCs Of Food Rooted In A Better Mood®." 

      [11] Brookie, Kate L et al. “Intake of Raw Fruits and Vegetables Is Associated With Better Mental Health Than Intake of Processed Fruits and Vegetables.” Frontiers in psychology vol. 9 487. 10 Apr. 2018, doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00487 

      [12] Maeda-Yamamoto, Mari et al. “The Impact of Purple-Flesh Potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) cv. "Shadow Queen" on Minor Health Complaints in Healthy Adults: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study.” Nutrients vol. 14,12 2446. 13 Jun. 2022, doi:10.3390/nu14122446 

      [13] Bannan, Patricia. “A Nutritionist Shares the 35 Best Foods to Boost Mood and Brain Energy Levels: ‘Put These on Your Grocery List.’” CNBC, CNBC, 23 Apr. 2022, 

      https://www.cnbc.com/2022/04/23/a-nutritionist-shares-the-best-grocery-foods-to-boost-mood-brain-energy-happiness.html.

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