Often find yourself choosing between unhealthy junk food (such as chips, cookies and soda) and foods with health-boosting nutrients (such as a salad, whole grain cereal and fresh-pressed fruit juice)?
Picking the healthy option doesn’t only benefit your body. For women, it’s a key way to keep your mood upbeat and lower your risk of anxiety and depression.
That’s the news from a 2018 study from my alma mater, Binghamton University, that shows it’s more important for women to consume foods high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other good-for-you nutrients to maintain a positive mood than it is for men.
Why? Beneficial nutrients help balance brain chemicals that impact emotions and reduce inflammation that’s been tied to mood problems.
And, it may be that because of differences in the way we’re wired, men don’t experience mood issues until they become deficient in certain nutrients while women require more nutrients on a consistent basis to maintain emotional equilibrium, says lead study author Lina Begdache, Ph.D.
As a result, she says, “…women may need a larger spectrum of nutrients to support mood, compared to men. These findings may explain the reason why women are twice more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety and depression and suffer from longer episodes, compared to men. Today’s diet is high in energy but poor in key nutrients that support brain anatomy and functionality.”
Healthy food boosts premenstrual happiness
The quality of the foods you eat has also been tied to the severity of premenstrual mood issues.
Numerous studies (such as this, this and this) suggest that consuming healthy foods leads to greater premenstrual positivity and less depression, anxiety, irritability and stress while consuming unhealthy foods has a negative effect on premenstrual mood.
Again, it comes down to beneficial nutrients impacting emotional processes in the brain and reducing inflammation. This nutritional support is even more critical in your premenstrual phase since plunging estrogen can push levels of mood-moderating chemicals out of kilter. Research suggests that some healthful nutrients may even balance out your hormones, further reducing the risk of premenstrual problems.
Good mood foods
Want to know which foods are most effective at keeping your mood at an even keel in your premenstrual phase? Research shows they include…
- Foods that deliver 1200 mg. of calcium daily–such as yogurt, mozzarella cheese and sardines (click here for more)
- Foods that deliver 700 IU of vitamin D daily–such as salmon, tuna and fortified orange juice (click here for more)
- Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids–such as salmon, walnuts and flax seed oil (click here for more)
- Foods containing plant-based “non-heme” iron–such as beans, lentils and spinach (click here for more)
- Foods containing the B vitamins thiamin–such as long grain rice, egg noodles and black beans (click here for more) and riboflavin–such as oat, yogurt and milk (click here for more)
So, the next time you’ve choosing between an unhealthy food and a healthy one, consider how much happier you could be by opting for the good-for-you choice.
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