If you’re looking for a food to make you happy, you’ve started off right by coming to Yo Mon. It’s impossible to be unhappy with a cup of fro-yo in front of you! Apparently though, there are some foods that just generally boost people’s moods; unfortunately, some of them wouldn’t taste so good in da cup (like turkey). Turns out, some foods actually contain compounds that have an effect on our moods; and what’s more, not getting enough of some foods can put us at a higher risk for depression. You may be wondering if foods that make people happy are really just “comfort foods”—they aren’t. The foods that we usually refer to as “comfort foods” vary from person to person and are usually associated with something in the past—a memory of a better time, etc., so the pleasure they give us is psychological. The “happiness” that we derive from other specific foods takes place on a physical level because our bodies are being supplied with certain compounds that we respond to in very specific ways. It just so happens that some of the “happiest” foods are flavoring some of your favorite frozen yogurt varieties (or topping them!)! Check it out, mon!
Get Nutty—Just a handful of pistachios can help lower your blood pressure, according to a study by Penn State University. Pistachios contain fiber, antioxidants, and unsaturated fatty acids which have all been linked to lower blood pressure.
Another great nut to keep around—walnuts! Walnuts are high in omega-3 essential fatty acids. Studies show that people with low levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood were more likely to report symptoms of depression, as well as a negative attitude. People with higher levels tended to be happier and more agreeable. An animal study at McLean Hospital (which is affiliated with Harvard) in Massachusetts showed that omega-3 fatty acids and uridine (which both occur naturally in walnuts) give a natural boost to communication between neurons in key areas of the brain. According to the study’s author, William Carlezon, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at Harvard Medical School, effects of omega-3s and uridine “were indistinguishable from standard antidepressant medications.” All it takes is a quarter cup of walnuts to give you 95% of the DV of omega-3s. You can easily fit that on the top of your fro-yo, right?
Da Dark Chocolate—We always knew our love of chocolate would pay off! Just a square or two of dark chocolate a day can help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke; and that feel-good feeling you get every time da chocolate melts in your mouth? It’s for real! Here’s what chocolate has going for it (besides its general deliciousness): caffeine (which stimulates and wakes us up); sugar (which triggers seratonin, a hormone that makes us feel good); and fat and phenylethylamine (which cause an endorphine release). Chocolate may be the ultimate “feel good” food, and we couldn’t be happier about that.
Da Leveler–Green Tea contains theanine, which is an antioxidant that helps to calm you down. Bottoms up!
Da Berry Best–Blueberries, raspberries and strawberries contain anthocyanidins and anthocyanins which help reduce stress and depression.
Da Florida Factor–Grapefruit and oranges are both helpful in relieving symptoms of depression. Grapefruit has folic acid in spades, which is important in delivering oxygen to the brain. Studies in people with depression found that their blood levels of folate were lower than in those without depression, so puckering up for a little grapefruit love is a good idea. Oranges too can lift the cloud of depression because they contain a substance called inositol which helps the body regulate seratonin and insulin levels. Result: Some relief from depression, fewer turns in the mood swing jungle.
You can come in and fill da cup with most of these flavors of frozen yogurt, but for a bigger boost, try topping your yogurt with some of these foods. You always get the most nutrients out of food when you go straight to the source, and maybe filling da cup will make getting the most nutrients out of your food a little more fun. Fill da cup, feed da soul, ease da mind.