Find out which foods can help boost your mood naturally.

Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D.
November 16, 2012

Find out which foods can help boost your mood naturally.

Those winter blues setting in? Try eating like a Spaniard, an Italian or a Greek. In a study of more than 11,000 people-published in March 2012 in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition-those who stuck to a Mediterranean diet scored higher on markers of mental health than their counterparts who ate a more Western diet. How to eat the Mediterranean way? Pack your diet with fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, fish and a moderate amount of alcohol. Though researchers couldn't pinpoint what exactly about the diet boosted participants' mental health, they suspect that omega-3 fats (found in oily fish), B vitamins and folate contributed.

Two other "foods" with some promise are the spice turmeric and green tea. Turmeric contains a polyphenol called curcumin that has been linked to a better mood, according to a 2012 review article in Nutritional Neuroscience. In one animal study, curcumin worked as well on stress-induced mood changes as an antidepressant. Similarly there's a polyphenol in green tea-EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate)-that may alleviate stress and depression. People who drank 4 or more cups of green tea daily, in an American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study, were 44 percent less likely to have depressive symptoms than those who drank just 1 cup a day (2 to 3 cups was also beneficial).

Bottom Line: Don't disregard the old-school advice to exercise and stay social. But food matters too.

November/December 2012