Megan Callahan, MS, RD, LD
Hy-Vee Registered Dietitian

November 28, 2020

Did you know that foods you eat can impact your mood? Balanced eating in general can impact your overall energy levels. There are also some key nutrients that can specifically help in promoting a good mood, including omega-3 fats, antioxidants, folate and tryptophan. Omega-3 fats are often associated with heart health and brain health, but studies also indicate their potential benefits for helping aid in mental health symptoms.

Below are a few examples of the nutrients and the types of foods that can boost your mood, and a few practical ways to add them into your diet each week.

Omega-3 fats: Can help impact mood by promoting brain and mental health and reducing inflammation.

Food examples: chia seeds, flaxseeds, salmon, tuna, walnuts, almonds, olive oil, fortified foods (such as omega-3 eggs – just look for “omega-3” on the container).

Ideas to include them in your week:
• Add ground up flaxseed to oatmeal.
• Include tuna salad with lunch.
• Pair walnuts with an apple as an afternoon snack.

Antioxidants: Research has indicated a significant reduction in symptoms of depression when vitamins A, C and E are added to the diet.

Food examples: blueberries, strawberries, bell peppers, almonds, leafy greens, oranges, dark chocolate

Ideas to include them in your week:
• Try a smoothie with spinach, frozen fruit and milk for some added leafy greens at breakfast.
• Enjoy bell peppers, hummus, whole-wheat pita bread and Greek yogurt for a Greek-themed lunch.
• Mix blueberries, almonds and dark chocolate chips in yogurt for a morning snack.

Folate: Important for cognitive functioning and brain health.

Food examples: asparagus, avocado, black-eyed peas, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, romaine lettuce, spinach, sunflower seeds

Ideas to include them in your week:
• Add sliced avocado to your sandwich at lunch.
• Combine sunflower seeds and shaved Brussels sprouts as a crunchy salad topping.
• Include asparagus with roasted turkey tenderloin and brown rice for a weeknight dinner.

Tryptophan: Associated with promoting calmness. Tryptophan is an amino acid (a building block of protein) that converts to serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that can help improve mood.

Food examples: Broccoli, chicken, eggs, leafy greens, mushrooms, pumpkin seeds, soybeans, turkey

Ideas to include them in your week:
• Enjoy an egg sandwich (see recipe below).
• Pair roasted chicken breast with mushrooms, quinoa and a leafy green such as kale.
• Enjoy roasted soybeans (edamame) as a snack. (You can find it dried and roasted in the Hy-Vee HealthMarket.)

Open-Face Egg Sandwich
Serves 1

All You Need:
1 slice whole-wheat bread
½ small avocado
1 large egg, beaten (dietitian tip: choose omega-3 eggs)
2 tbsp chopped baby spinach
1 tbsp 2% reduced-fat milk
1 tsp Smart Balance spread
Pepper, to taste
1 tbsp shredded Cheddar cheese
¼ cup quartered cherry tomatoes

All you do:

  1. Toast bread.
  2. Peel, seed and slice avocado; set aside.
  3. Combine beaten egg with spinach and milk. Melt Smart Balance spread in nonstick skillet over medium heat; add egg mixture and cook until egg is just set. Season with pepper and top with cheese.
  4. Place sliced avocado on toast. Add cooked egg mixture and cherry tomatoes.

Recipe source: Adapted from Hy-Vee Seasons, November 2020. The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.