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Foods to Brighten Your Mood

In addition to providing solace and pleasure, food can brighten your day by providing various nutrients that have been shown to affect brain chemicals that influence mood. Brain chemicals, or neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, facilitate communication within the brain and between the mind and body. Foremost among these is serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps messages move throughout the nervous system. High levels of serotonin are associated with elevated mood, while low levels signal more subdued states. When serotonin is in short supply, for example, insomnia and food cravings may occur.

Eating foods that contain nutrients (that stimulate the production of serotonin) can help perk up a drab day. The key is to eat a balanced and varied diet and to pay attention to when your mood tends to flag. If you notice that your spirits fall at certain times of day, plan meals and snacks accordingly, and try to eat a variety of foods so that the body maintains a proper balance of the chemicals that can influence mood. Some good mood-boosting choices include leafy greens, fish, poultry, whole grains, low or non-fat milk, spinach, whole wheat bread and pasta.