Lifestyle Solutions for a Happy Healthy You!

Posts tagged ‘Appetizers & Snacks’

Cashews to Beat the Blues

Cashews to Beat the Blues

What makes cashews so powerful? Tryptophan. That’s right; tryptophan isn’t just in your holiday turkey. One serving of cashews contains 28% of our RDA of the essential amino acid. Tryptophan is actually a precursor to serotonin. When serotonin levels are low, anxiety and depression can set in. The body uses tryptophan to produce serotonin in the brain, so 1/4 to 1/2 cup of cashews can actually help your body boost its stores. In fact, about 1/2 cup of cashews contains around 500 mg of tryptophan, which is justified as a therapeutic amount for mood elevation. Just don’t start eating 1/2 cup of cashews every day as, although they are healthy, they are nutritionally dense in calories.

But tryptophan alone is not what makes cashews such a powerful antidepressant food. Cashews are also high in magnesium and B6. Our modern diets are often deficient in magnesium, due to stress and poor eating habits. Incidentally, magnesium has been shown to prevent and rapidly treat depression in many patients, so it is an incredibly important mineral for mood balance. B6, on the other hand, is also extremely important, as it is the vitamin responsible for tryptophan’s conversion into serotonin. It also enhances magnesium’s absorption by the body. In fact, tryptophan, B6, and magnesium work together as a trifecta of mood-boosters, and cashews are a great source of all of ‘em.

Cashews aren’t a miracle food, however. It is still important to reduce stress, get moderate exercise, and consume a healthy diet to get the one-up on depression. Stress may be the most significant factor, as cortisol can prevent tryptophan from being converted in the body. So, be sure to practice meditation, yoga, or positive self talk with those cashews, and be sure to always consult a trusted doctor for anything occurring chronically.

What’s often overlooked, however, is that nutrition and depression are inextricably linked. If you are feeling blue, it may be a good idea to get tested for dietary deficiencies before popping pills. Other great foods loaded with tryptophan, if you are adverse to cashews, are pumpkin seeds and beans. But, with B6, magnesium, and tryptophan, cashews are veritable depression busters. Keeping some on hand in your freezer for a quick and delicious boost or to combat the winter doldrums is an excellent idea.

Leesa recommends choosing Organic Cashews, Organic Pumpkin Seeeds, and Organic Beans!

By Jordan Cormier

Jordyn is a choreographer, freelance writer, and an avid outdoors woman. Having received her B.F.A. in Contemporary Dance from the Boston Conservatory, she is passionate about maintaining a healthy body, mind, and soul through food and fitness. A lover of adventure, Jordyn can often be found hiking, canoeing, mountain biking, and making herself at home in the backcountry! 

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Would feeling fantastic every day make a difference in your life?  

Healthy Highway is a Healthy Lifestyle Company offering Lifestyle Solutions for a Happy Healthy You!   We help people who are…

  • Wanting Work Life Balance.
  • Needing Stress Relief.
  • Concerned about their health and the environment.
  • Frustrated battling allergies to gluten, foods, dust, chemicals, pollen.
  • Overwhelmed with choosing the best products for their body, home, and office.
  • Unsatisfied with their relationships with the men and women in their life and are ready to transform them into satisfying, happy partnerships.
  • Standing at a Career Crossroad.
  • Preparing to start a family and want a healthy baby.
  • Seeking solutions for aging, more energy, and a good night’s sleep!

Are any of these an issue or problem for you?  Would it make sense for us to spend several minutes together to discuss your needs and how HealthyHighway can meet them? As a Healthy Lifestyle Coach with an emphasis on allergies and wellness, Leesa teaches her clients to make informed choices and enables them to make needed changes for a Happy Healthy Lifestyle. What you eat, what products you use ~ on your body and in your home and office, how you talk to yourself ~ it all matters!

Contact me today and Start today to live a healthier, happier life!  Don’t live in Atlanta?  Not a problem.  We do virtual coaching worldwide!

I look forward to helping YOU Live a Happy Healthy Life!  Remember, Excellent Health is found along your way, not just at your destination.

Live Well!

Leesa A. Wheeler

Leesa A. Wheeler

Healthy Lifestyle Coach, Artisan, Author of two books…
     Melodies from Within ~ Available Now! 
    Available on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, GooglePlay, iTunes! 

Member International Association for Health Coaches 

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7 Winter Vegetables that Boost Your Health

7 Winter Vegetables that Boost Your Health
We rarely think of vegetables in the winter but it is important to eat your veggies this time of year to keep your immune system strong.
Beets Beets are one of the most overlooked superfoods.  They lower blood pressure, increase exercise endurance, and reduce inflammation.  They contain potent phytonutrients called proanthocyanidins which give beets their brilliant purple color.  Proanthocyanidins are proven anti-cancer compounds.  They are packed in nutrients like folate which is important to prevent birth defects, potassium which is critical for healthy muscles and nerves, manganese which helps build strong bones, and vitamin C for a strong immune system.  
Carrots – Just one carrot contains 13,500 IU of beta carotene which translates into a tremendous amount of nutritional power against free radicals.  Beta carotene is anti-cancerous, prevents cellular damage and premature aging, and is important to prevent cataracts.

Ginger—Ginger is one of the best natural anti-pain remedies.  Technically it is a spice but it is ideal for winter since it reduces joint pain that plagues so many people with arthritis this time of year.  It also adds warmth to foods and beverages making freshly minced garlic a welcome addition to most soups, stews, and curries.

Rutabaga—Contrary to popular belief, rutabagas are not turnips.  The most common rutabagas are larger than turnips, have purple and cream-colored skins, and tend to have a cream to yellow-colored flesh.  It is high in anti-cancer compounds, immune-boosting vitamin C, fiber, and vitamin B6 which is needed for a healthy nervous system. They are great in soups, stews, curries, and other places you’d use hardy winter veggies.  I love them cut into small cubes, tossed with a bit of olive oil and sea salt and roasted in the oven on 350 for about an hour.

Squash—Squash is rich in beta-carotene, the nutrient that gives squash its brilliant orange-colored flesh.  Enjoy it cut in half, seeded, and roasted.  Add roasted squash to soups, salads, stews, or in wraps and on sandwiches.  Use grated, raw squash in muffin recipes, in place of zucchini in zucchini bread recipes, or in other baked goods to increase their nutritional value.

Sweet Potatoes—Like squash, sweet potatoes are also high in beta carotene.   They also contain vitamins C, B6, and minerals like blood-building iron, energy-boosting potassium, and Nature’s relaxant, magnesium.  Enjoy them chopped into French fry-shapes, tossed in a little olive oil and sea salt and baked in the oven for about 45 minutes on 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Turnips—Turnips are a good source of fiber which helps to keep blood sugar levels steady and stabilize energy and moods.  They are also a rich source of glucosinolates—the precursors of isothiocyanates that are proven anti-cancer powerhouses.

By Michelle Schoffro Cook

Michelle Schoffro Cook

Michelle Schoffro Cook, MSc, RNCP, ROHP, DNM, PhD is an international best-selling and 15-time book author and doctor of traditional natural medicine, whose works include: 60 Seconds to SlimWeekend Wonder DetoxHealing Recipes, The Vitality Diet, Allergy-Proof, Arthritis-Proof, Total Body DetoxThe Life Force Diet, The Ultimate pH Solution, The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan, and The Phytozyme Cure. Subscribe to her free e-magazine World’s Healthiest News at WorldsHealthiestDiet.com to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more. Follow her on Twitter @mschoffrocook and Facebook.

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Excellent Health is found along your journey and not just at your destination. Would it make sense for us to spend several minutes together to discuss your Health Issues or Problems and how HealthyHighway can help YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life? Please complete the information on our Contact Us page to schedule your consultation today! I look forward to helping YOU Live YOUR Optimum Life!

Live Well!

Leesa Wheeler

Leesa A. Wheeler

Healthy Lifestyle Coach, Artisan, Author

ring ~ 770-393-1284

write ~ info@healthyhighway.org

visit ~ www.HealthyHighway.org

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9 Easy Ways to Boost Your Energy

9 Easy Ways to Boost Your Energy

 

 

Boosting your energy doesn’t have to cost a lot or feel like work. Just by  learning a few simple tricks you can have a great impact on your energy for the  rest of your life.

1. Start the day out with the juice of one lemon  squeezed into pure water. Not only do lemons contain over 20  anti-cancer compounds, they help to quickly restore your body’s pH.  While  lemons are acidic, when the juice is metabolized with water, it alkalizes your  body to help reduce pain or headaches, improve your energy levels, and optimize  your body’s natural enzyme processes.

2.  Eat fresh fruit. Fresh fruit is packed with  vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and of course, enzymes. We tend to deplete  our bodies’ own stores of enzymes by overeating and eating primarily cooked or  processed foods.  Adding fresh, raw fruit allows your body to divert its  own digestive energy to other functions in your body.  When eaten on an  empty stomach the fruit passes through your digestive system quickly to provide  you with a quick boost of energy.  Don’t overdo on extremely sweet fruit  like pineapples or bananas if you’re trying to lose weight.

3.  Snack on raw, soaked nuts and seeds throughout the  day. By soaking raw nuts for at least an hour (but preferably overnight) and  then draining them, you help to quash enzyme inhibitors found in nuts while  increasing the nutrient-content. Soaking them increases their water content and  digestibility, helping to make sure your body can assimilate their rich calcium,  magnesium, zinc and Omega 3 fatty acid stores. Nuts also make a great snack  because they help to keep blood sugar levels stable and that means weight loss,  greater energy and balanced moods for you.

4.  Keep a tray of crudités (raw veggie sticks) to  snack on or add to your meals. You’ll be far more likely to eat them on a  regular basis if they are already cleaned, cut, and ready to go.  Raw  veggies are loaded with vitamins, minerals and enzymes.

5.  Eat a large raw salad at a minimum of one meal a  day. That doesn’t include iceberg lettuce topped with a starchy tomato. I’m  talking about a large green salad, either Romaine, mesclun mix or your favorite  greens—just be sure they are actually green. But your salad doesn’t have to be a  boring plate of greens. Top with some fresh berries, garlic and ginger crisps,  brown rice noodles, salsa, roasted vegetables or raw walnuts. I’ve observed many  converts go from salad haters to salad lovers with a little creativity and some  delicious recipes.  And greens are among the most nutrient-dense food you  can eat so it’s worth the effort.

6.  Sip fresh juice. Enjoy a smoothie made with fresh  fruit and almond milk. Drink a freshly-made veggie and carrot juice between  meals. It’s easier and more delicious than you think to drink fresh juices. Once  you get in the habit of having fresh juice, you’ll never want packaged or  concentrated juices again. The added energy they’ll give you over time will be  reward for the minimal effort required to make them.

7.  Make a salad smoothie. Sounds disgusting but you’ll  be surprised how delicious, filling and nutritious this power drink can be. Toss  a large handful of mild greens like Boston lettuce, Romaine lettuce or spinach  along with berries, frozen banana, almond milk or other smoothie ingredients and  blend for an instant “green drink” and salad. I opt for a salad smoothie when  I’m pressed for time or am just feeling a little lazy and want my salad in a  hurry.

8.  Add sprouts to salads, wraps, sandwiches, noodles  or stir-fries after they’ve finished cooking. Sprouts are diverse and versatile.   They are nutrient- and enzyme-powerhouses, giving your body a serious  boost when eaten on a regular basis.  If you don’t like one kind, try  another.  There are many different varieties, including but not limited  to:  mung bean, onion, broccoli, alfalfa and red clover. Sprouts are  serious energy-boosting superfoods.

9.  Eat only until you are full. For many people eating  has become a pastime rather than something to nourish their appetites and  bodies. Reducing the amount you eat may increase longevity. Research shows that  even slightly restricting caloric intake increases the lifespan of laboratory  animals so this benefit may transfer to humans as well. Eat until you feel full  but not heavy. It may take some time to adjust to this concept. Most people eat  until they are bloated and heavy feeling and mistake that as feeling “full.” Stop well before that. You’ll use a lot less energy to eat only until you are  full than you would if you keep on eating.  And that frees up energy for  other things.  That doesn’t mean you should starve yourself, go hungry, or  use this advice as an excuse to support an eating disorder. Snack later if you  become hungry again, but pay attention to your body’s signals, not just to your  eyes and taste buds.

(Leesa recommends that your fruit and vegetable choices be organic!)

By Michelle Schoffro Cook

Michelle Schoffro Cook

Michelle Schoffro Cook, MSc, RNCP, ROHP, DNM, PhD is an international  best-selling and 14-time book author and doctor of traditional natural medicine,  whose works include: 60 Seconds  to Slim, Healing Recipes, The  Vitality Diet, Allergy-Proof, Arthritis-Proof, Total Body Detox, The  Life Force Diet, The Ultimate pH Solution, The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan,  and The Phytozyme Cure.  Check out her natural health resources and  subscribe to her free e-magazine World’s Healthiest News at WorldsHealthiestDiet.com  to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more. Follow her on Twitter @mschoffrocook  and Facebook.

 

18 Ways to Boost Your Health in 2013

18 Ways to Boost Your Health in 2013

 

Let’s face it:  most of us start out the New Year with the best  intentions, but soon we are back to our old habits.  Here are 18 ways to  help you get your health on track in 2013:

1. Eat a large green salad.  Greens are full of vitamins, minerals,  enzymes, and phytonutrients like chlorophyll that give our body a huge  boost.  Chlorophyll, in particular, helps build healthy and strong  blood.

2. Drink more water.  Water fuels every cell in our body.   Insufficient water spells the breakdown of cellular process that can eventually  cause illness.

3. Eat two or three pieces or servings of fruit (count ½ cup of fruit like  grapes, blueberries, cherries, etc. as a serving) daily.  It’s easy enough  to choose fruit instead of a less-healthy dessert.

4. Go for a brisk walk.  Walking gets your heart pumping, improves  circulation, and gets your lymphatic system (the system that eliminates toxic  build-up from your tissues) working more effectively.

5. Better yet, take your brisk walk in nature.  Breath in the rich  oxygenated air from the trees and enjoy the peace and quiet nature offers.

6. Drink a freshly made juice preferably with green veggies.  Ideally,  dilute your juice 1:1 with pure water.  Fresh juices are an easy way to  cleanse your body and give it a huge amount of nutrients.  Some people  spend a fortune on superfoods (which is fine if you have the money) but fresh  juices also tend to be rich in antioxidants and other critical nutrients and are  much cheaper.

7. Think of at least 10 things for which you are grateful each day.   Better yet, start a gratitude journal.  Just the act of appreciating what  you have can help you feel happier and better about your life.

8. Hug someone you love (make sure it is someone who actually wants a  hug).

9. Soak in a warm bath with Epsom salts.  The magnesium in Epsom salts  is readily absorbed through your skin to relax your muscles and ease  tension.  Many experts estimate that about 80% of the population is  magnesium deficient.  This is a delightful way to boost your magnesium  levels.  Try to stay in the water for at least 20 minutes for maximum  benefits.

10.  Meditate.  The act of calming your mind can relax the nervous  system, which tends to be in stress mode due to our high-stress, fast-paced  lives.

11.  Deep breathe for at least 5 minutes, as often as you can.   Research shows that breathing deeply can reduce the amount of the stress hormone  cortisol that is released from the adrenal glands.  Simply reducing this  hormone can reduce anxiety, stress, and even help with weight loss.

12.  Dry skin brush.  Brush your skin using a natural-bristled  brush.  Start with the legs and brush upwards toward the heart.  Then  brush the trunk of the body also toward the heart (avoiding the breasts), and  then brush the arms toward the heart.  This gets the lymphatic system  moving to eliminate toxins more effectively.  Take a couple of minutes  before hopping in the shower.

13.  Snack between meals on healthy snacks like almonds, veggie crudite,  hummus and whole grain pitas.  Snacking every few hours helps keep blood  sugar levels stable, which is critical to reduce mood swings, depression,  balance energy and to lose weight.

14.  Stop and smell the flowers.  It’s okay to slow down to a pace  that you actually enjoy life more.

15.  Eliminate at least one item from your life that contains toxic  chemicals (dryer sheets, most types of commercial laundry soap, dish soap, “air  fresheners,” etc.).  Choose a natural option from your health food store  instead.

16.  Eat at least 5 servings of vegetables.  We know we should eat  our vegetables but it’s difficult to remember sometimes.  Add mashed sweet  potatoes as a side dish, or saute some greens with freshly chopped garlic and  toss with a little fresh lemon juice and sea salt.  Even people who don’t  like greens tend to love this way of preparing them.  Check out my book Healing Recipes if you need more ideas for creating  delicious vegetable dishes.

17.  Dust off that piece of exercise equipment you’ve owned for years  and put it in front of your television.  If you’re watching TV, exercise on  the commercials.  No equipment?  Do pushups, sit-ups, crunches, or  other exercises on the commercials.  It’s easy and it adds up.  Soon,  you’ll be surprised how fit you are.

18.  Do something nice for someone.  It just feels good to do  something nice for someone else.  Usually we reap the greatest benefits out  of paying good deeds forward.  A positive attitude is contagious.

By Michelle Schoffro Cook

Michelle Schoffro Cook, MSc, RNCP, ROHP, DNM, PhD is an international  best-selling and 14-time book author and doctor of traditional natural medicine,  whose works include: 60 Seconds  to Slim, Healing Recipes, The  Vitality Diet, Allergy-Proof, Arthritis-Proof, Total Body Detox, The  Life Force Diet, The Ultimate pH Solution, The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan,  and The Phytozyme Cure.  Check out her natural health resources and  subscribe to her free e-magazine World’s Healthiest News at WorldsHealthiestDiet.com  to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more. Follow her on Twitter @mschoffrocook  and Facebook.

Read more: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/18-ways-to-boost-your-health-in-2013.html#ixzz2IYiSOvF4

7 Super-Healing Summer Berries

7 Super-Healing Summer Berries

 

Berries are a delicious addition to any diet.  But,  taste is not the only reason to love them.  Here’s why you should add these  seven super-healing summer berries to your diet:

Blackberries

Loaded with vitamin C, blackberries also contain ellagic acid—an important  phytonutrient that protects skin cells from damaging UV rays. Ellagic acid also  prevents the breakdown of collagen in the skin that occurs as we age and is  linked to wrinkling.

Blueberries

Blueberries are phytonutrient powerhouses.  They  contain: anthocyanins, ellagic acid, quercetin, catechins, and salicylic acid.  If the latter sounds familiar, you may recognize it as the drug we’ve come to  know as Aspirin. That’s right—blueberries contain natural aspirin, but in this  beautiful and delicious packaging offered by Mother Nature, there’s no worry  about harmful side effects. What’s more, blueberries are proven to reduce heat  shock proteins that are linked with some forms of brain disease, making these  little marvels potent weapons in the prevention of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s  disease as well as other neurological disorders.

 

Loganberries

A cross between blackberries and raspberries, these berries  strengthen blood  vessels, making them an excellent addition to help  fight heart disease or  varicose veins. They contain rutin, which  research shows strengthens  capillaries and improves circulation. They  look like long raspberries.

Currants

Currants contain gamma-linolenic acid that inhibit the body’s histamine—the  allergic response in reaction to pollens. That makes them great to help you  avoid or eliminate sinus congestion and itchy eyes linked to seasonal allergies.  Since they are tart, you might enjoy them best mixed with other berries.

Raspberries

Raspberries are still my favorite fruit. Raspberries, like other  berries,  contain an important compound that is 10 times more effective  at alleviating  inflammation than aspirin. Containing the phytonutrient  ellagic acid,  raspberries can help protect against pollutants found in  cigarette smoke,  processed foods, and may neutralize some cancer-causing  substances before they  can damage healthy cells. They’re delicious on  their own, in a fruit salad, in  a smoothie, or on top of a green salad.

 

Gooseberries

Gooseberries—the berries that resemble green grapes—help you to feel  happier.  In recent research in the journal Experimental  Neurobiology,   scientists found that gooseberries contain a flavonoid  called   kaempferol that prevents the breakdown of brain hormones serotonin and   dopamine. These brain chemicals naturally help us fight stress and keep   our  spirits up.

Strawberries

More than delicious, when it comes to disease prevention, these babies pack a  serious punch. Not only do eight strawberries contain more vitamin C than an  orange, they are antioxidant powerhouses. Whether you want to evade heart  disease, arthritis, memory loss, wrinkling, or cancer, these berries have proven  their ability to help. Plus, they’re just so easy to get into your diet on a  regular basis.

By Michelle Schoffro Cook

Michelle Schoffro Cook, MSc, RNCP, ROHP, DNM, PhD is an international  best-selling and twelve-time book author and doctor of traditional natural  medicine, whose works include: Healing Recipes, The Vitality Diet,  Allergy-Proof, Arthritis-Proof, Total Body Detox, The  Life Force Diet, The Ultimate pH Solution, The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan,  and The Phytozyme Cure.  Check out her natural health resources and  subscribe to her free e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News at WorldsHealthiestDiet.com.

Image credit (loganberry): ndrwfgg / Flickr

Foods that Boost Serotonin

Foods that Boost Serotonin

Serotonin plays an important role in regulating happiness, problem-solving and  concentration. When the level of serotonin fluctuates, it can directly change an  individual’s mood, sleep  patterns, appetite, memory, ability to learn and comprehend, body  temperature, heart performance and muscular functioning. A deficiency in  serotonin is sometimes regulated with medication but consuming specific food  items can boost the level of this chemical in the brain.

Fruits that Increase Serotonin

Various fruits boost serotonin and other mood-improving chemicals in the  brain. Plums, pineapple, bananas and sour cherries can directly influence  serotonin production. Bananas contain high levels of a chemical called  tryptophan. This chemical is converted to serotonin in the brain. Melatonin, a  chemical known for improving sleep, is found in sour cherries.

Serotonin Boost from Protein Sources

Turkey is another food known to contain high levels of tryptophan. Many  people report feeling drowsy after eating turkey. The sleepiness following a  large meal with turkey, such as the traditional Thanksgiving dinner, is somewhat  due to tryptophan and serotonin but it is also due to eating a larger quantity  of food. Other foods that can boost serotonin in the protein family include  eggs, beef, wild fish and most animals that are free of growth-promoting  hormones.

Carbohydrate-based Foods that Increase Serotonin

Carbohydrates can make a person feel full. Any grain or sugar-containing item  is usually considered to be a carbohydrate source. When an individual feels the  full sensation in the stomach, it can be rewarding in different ways. The person  may feel satisfied because basic nourishment has been fulfilled, but the brain  may also produce more serotonin as a result of the sugar and make up of the  carbohydrate-based food. Examples of carbohydrate foods include pasta, bread and  white potatoes. Dairy products consist of sugars that boost serotonin  production. Examples include milk, Swiss cheese and cheddar cheese. The cheeses  can increase other mood-boosting chemicals in the body having the same effect as  an increase in serotonin.

Sweet Treats Boost Mood

Eating a favored sweet treat, like dark chocolate, can increase mood not just  because it is so well-liked but also because it increases serotonin levels in  the brain. Some sugary snacks can lead to a dip in energy, causing the  individual to feel sleepy instead of energized or happier. For the purpose of  increasing serotonin, foods lower in sugar will have a more lasting effect.

Things to Consider

Every individual will respond differently to various foods. The exact  quantity of each food needed in order to increase serotonin has yet to be  determined. Eating foods known to boost serotonin is not a recommended method of  treatment for depression or other mood disorders associated with serotonin  deficiencies. Instead, mood-boosting foods can be eaten during illness or other  short-term events that cause a negative mood, fatigue, trouble concentrating and  sleep problems.

by Sarah  Harding, Contributor to Holistic  Nutrition on Allthingshealing.com

All Things Healing (allthingshealing.com) is an online  portal and community dedicated to informing and educating people across the  globe about alternative healing of mind, body, spirit and the planet at large.  We are committed to bringing together a worldwide community of individuals and  organizations who are working to heal themselves, each other, and the world. We  offer 39 healing categories, 80 plus editors who are experts in their fields, a  forum for each category, and an extensive “Find Practitioners” listing. Our  Costa Rica Learning Center and Spiritual Retreat is coming soon. Join  us!

5 Best Snacks to Boost Your Mood

5 Best Snacks to Boost Your Mood

Change your diet, change your mood? Science says the answer is yes. Food isn’t just fuel for the body; it feeds the mind and changes our moods. Food scientists are still exploring the big picture regarding food and mood, but it’s clear that certain foods have a feel-good factor. Try these five mood-boosting snacks.

Bananas
Bananas offer serious mood-lifting power, with their combination of vitamins B6, A, and C; fiber; tryptophan; potassium; phosphorous; iron; protein; and healthy carbohydrates.

When you eat a banana, you’ll get a quick boost from the fructose as well as sustaining energy from the fiber, which helps prevent a blood sugar spike and ensuing drop in energy and mood. Carbohydrates aid in the absorption of tryptophan in the brain, and vitamin B6 helps convert the tryptophan into mood-lifting serotonin. Bananas are also a great source of potassium. While potassium isn’t directly related to mood, it’s needed to regulate fluid levels and keep muscles working properly, which is important for feeling energized, a key factor for a sunny outlook. And finally, bananas also offer iron, which is crucial to producing energy and fighting fatigue.

Get even happier: Bananas are among the best when it comes to mixing and matching mood-boosting snacks. For a sunny smoothie, blend a banana with one handful of spinach, a tablespoon of ground flaxseed, and half a cup of apple juice. Spinach is one of the richest food sources of folate (vitamin B9) you can find, and flaxseed is full of omega-3s. When combined, these nutrients help maintain stable levels of brain serotonin and may help reduce your risk of depression.

For a sweet treat, try a frozen dark chocolate-covered banana, which you’ll find in the freezer section of many natural foods stores. Or melt your own dark chocolate at home to dip banana slices in for a satisfying, mood-lifting fondue.

Banana-Mango Soup with Cardamom

Walnuts
Walnuts contain a handful of components that contribute to a good mood, including omega-3s, vitamin B6, tryptophan, protein, and folate.

Higher blood levels of omega-3s have been linked with better mood and lower rates of depression, while lower blood levels of omega-3s have been associated with higher rates of depression and negative feelings. An animal study authored by Harvard Medical School Professor William Carlezon found that omega-3s and uridine (another substance found in walnuts, which plays an important role in helping metabolize carbohydrates) worked in the same way as standard antidepressant medications.

The standard dosage of omega-3 oils recommended by many experts is one gram (1,000 mg) per day. You’ll get about the same amount, as well as a healthy dose of fiber and protein, in just half an ounce of walnuts. About two teaspoons of walnut oil will also do the trick, but you won’t get the all the nutrition you would from the whole nut.

Get even happier: Crumble walnuts on top of a serving of organic yogurt for a crunchy and creamy treat with a double-dose of tryptophan.

Wholesome Maple and Walnut Squares

Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are a super source of folate and magnesium, two substances that play a significant role in regulating and boosting mood. Just a handful of sunflower seeds delivers half the daily recommended amount for magnesium.

Magnesium, in addition to regulating mood, plays an essential role in hundreds of bodily functions. Magnesium deficiency is often responsible for feelings of fatigue, nervousness, and anxiety (since it triggers an increase in adrenaline), and it’s been linked to various mood disorders. Sufficient, stable magnesium levels, on the other hand, help us achieve a calm and relaxed state, the prefect precursor to a good mood. It’s so effective, in fact, that scientific studies have shown magnesium supplementation to be beneficial in treating major depression, suicidal tendencies, anxiety, irritability, and insomnia.

Folate (also known as vitamin B9 and as folic acid) is a B-complex vitamin that’s intimately linked with nervous system function. Folate deficiency may result in feelings of irritability, depression, and brain fog, as well as insomnia. Being well rested and keeping a clear head are two of the primary factors in fueling a good mood, so snacking on sunflower seeds is a smart move in more ways than one.

Sunflower seeds are a good source of tryptophan and are often recommended by nutritional experts as a natural method of boosting serotonin levels. They’re also rich in fiber, which helps maintain stable hormone levels — one of the keys to keeping even-keeled.

Get even happier: Try this homemade trail mix to blast the blues: Sift sunflower seeds together with almonds, Brazil nuts, raisins, and dark chocolate chunks. Brazil nuts contain selenium, another natural mood booster.

Sunflower Seed Soup!

Dark Chocolate
A number of unscientific studies name chocolate the number-one craved food in America, so it makes sense that indulging in chocolate makes for a happy experience. And as it turns out, there are some real reasons why that’s so. For one, chocolate contains a number of substances that elevate mood, including fat, sugar, caffeine, phenylethylamine, flavonols, theobromine, and tryptophan.

Caffeine and theobromine are two naturally occurring stimulants found in chocolate. Along with sugar and fat, these substances provide a swift burst of energy and mood-lifting power. Chocolate also contains the mood-boosting compounds phenylethylamine, tyramine, tryptophan, and magnesium. While these substances are found in many other foods, even in higher concentrations, chocolate has an advantage because of its appeal on several sensory levels: it has a rich, mouth-pleasing texture; an intense taste; and an appealing aroma. For many of us, just the idea of indulging in chocolate is enough to elicit a positive emotional response.

In addition to these natural pick-me-ups, when you eat chocolate, a number of reactions occur, including the release of serotonin in the brain and mood-elevating endorphins in the body. This heady combination can result in a temporarily lifted mood and even a fleeting feeling of euphoria, which may explain why some people turn to chocolate when they’re feeling blue.

Finally, cocoa is a natural source of antioxidant flavonoids, which increase blood flow (and thus oxygenation) in the brain, and which may contribute to better brain function. Not all chocolate is created equal, though. For the best health and happiness benefits, go for good-quality dark chocolate with a cocoa level of 70 percent or higher. The more cocoa it contains, the higher the levels of healthy compounds, so the darker the chocolate, the better it is for you.

Get even happier: Chocolate-covered almonds are a decadent snack full of fiber, vitamin E, potassium, manganese, magnesium, copper, tryptophan, and vitamin B2 (riboflavin). Almonds help lower the glycemic index of the chocolate, preventing a spike in blood sugar and its resultant low energy and mood. In fact, fiber, manganese, copper, and B2 are power players when it comes to energy production — and steady energy is a must for a happy mood.

Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Eggs
Eggs might not be the first food that comes to mind when you think of a snack, but a hard-boiled egg is easy to make and easy to transport. It’s also a really good-for-you and good-for-your-mood snack. Full of high-quality protein and omega-3s (from hens eating a diet rich in omega-3s), eggs are also an excellent source of vitamin B12 (riboflavin) and a good source of vitamins B2, B5, and D. And one boiled egg contains more than 20 percent of the daily recommended amount of tryptophan.

While carbs are crucial for converting tryptophan into serotonin, protein is an important part of the process, too. A balanced diet that includes high-quality lean protein, like you find in eggs, and healthy carbs also helps stabilize blood sugar and prevent emotional highs and lows. And the Vitamin B12 in eggs plays a significant role in the production of energy and helps alleviate memory problems and symptoms of depression.

Get even happier: Add your egg to whole-grain toast for a satisfying snack that will give you a boost of long-lasting energy and fuel a feeling of well-being. Complex carbohydrates are an ideal pairing for protein-rich eggs, since they temporarily produce a calming effect by delivering a dose of tryptophan and triggering the production of serotonin. Carbohydrates also aid in the absorption of tryptophan in the brain.

By Nikki Jong, Caring.com

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