Five Foods to Make You Happy
You might think that eating a banana-split sundae, dripping in caramel sauce or drinking a jumbo Slurpie through a tree-trunk-sized straw will make you happier, but I assure you that these sweet treats will only bring a temporary jolt of energy, masquerading as euphoria. In fact, the scientific community has gone far to demonstrate that sugar “highs” more often than not lead to sugar “lows.” Food for the Brain, an organization that aims to improve mental health through nutrition, cites sugar consumption as one of the most significant catalysts for depression and other mood disorders. According to their findings, "The more uneven your blood sugar supply the more uneven your mood.”
So what should you be munching on to stay happy? Some of our findings might surprise you.
Chili Peppers: Even if you don’t like the taste of spicy foods, try to overlook the effects on your tastebuds. In fact, it is precisely that burning sensation—the impulse to drink four gallons of milk—that stimulates your body to release endorphins. Whether you chop them into summer gazpacho or sprinkle a few flakes onto your taco salad, remember this picante harbinger of happiness.
Spinach: While most kids would consider a meal involving spinach to be a major downer, this leafy green can actually make you happier—by providing folic acid. Studies have shown that low levels of folic acid correlate with depression and, because your body doesn’t store it, it’s important to consume it regularly. (If you’re really opposed to spinach, try citrus fruits, like oranges or grapefruits.)
Chocolate: I know we just spent a few paragraphs above condemning sugar, but numerous studies have demonstrated that chocolate--cocoa, more specifically--causes a quantifiable “high” thanks to a compound called phenylethylalanine. It’s the same stuff that’s released when people fall in love; no wonder this sweet treat has become the quintessential Valentine’s gift.
Pumpkin Seeds: Even if it's not jack-o-lantern carving season, grab a bag of this depression-fighting snack next time you're cruising the health food aisle of the supermarket. Pumpkin seeds, like turkey, contain the animo acid tryptophan, which is a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin. Low serotonin levels are responsible for depression, so it's never a bad idea to top off your reserves.
Greek Yogurt: Not only does this thicker, creamier cousin of regular yogurt provide twice as much protein, it is a fantastic source of calcium, which is a known mood-stabilizer. Think ice-cream is your only source of dairy happiness? Think again.
We all know that food makes many people happy, whether it means dining on a six-course omakase meal or stopping by your favorite food truck for lunch, but food-driven happiness can also be nutritionally-driven. Who knows, maybe you'll be so content from your influx of nutrients that you won't even miss the sundae.