What You Eat Can Make You Happier, Studies Suggest

Folate and vitamin B12 have been associated with a reduced risk of depression, and so has a healthy digestive track

Years of research have demonstrated that a healthy diet can help cut the risks of illnesses including diabetes and some cancers. Now a growing number of studies suggest that food choices may have an effect on our emotions. With that in mind, the experts at Consumer Reports serve up food for a good mood.

A Mediterranean diet that includes olive oil, nuts, fatty fish, and whole grains contains lots of folate and vitamin B12, which have been associated with a reduced risk of depression.

Why your food choices may affect your mood isn’t totally clear. But some scientists have a feeling it may be related to your microbiome, the ever-changing mix of good and bad bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract. 

The healthy bacteria in your digestive system produce neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that help control your mood. In fact, about 90 percent of serotonin, which you usually think of as a brain chemical, is actually produced in your digestive system.

Yogurt is great to eat because it contains probiotics, the good bacteria. And make sure you eat other foods that feed good bacteria, such as garlic, leeks, onions, and asparagus. 

Veggies may boost your mood in another way, too. They have fiber, which helps feed healthy bacteria, and research has shown that the more vegetables you eat, the better your mood. Spinach, Swiss chard, and fresh herbs like basil are among the veggies that offer the biggest mood boost.

And research shows—with many nutritionists agreeing—that you should stay away from ultra-processed foods and drinks that contain lots of added sugars and additives.  

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