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The Best Good Mood Foods Found In Study

depression relief, good mood food, food and health

“It’s Good Mood Food” may be a slogan for a popular fast-food company, but a California scientist found that it is truly a reality. New research finds several flavors that act on the brain similarly to a commonly-prescribed mood-stabilizing drug. And yes – chocolate is on the list!

Karina Martinez-Mayorga conducted research on more than 1,700 substances that make up the flavors of common foods while working at the Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies in San Diego. Use a technique known as chemoinformatics, the application of informatics methods to solve chemical problems, she screened food ingredients for similarities to the commonly prescribed antidepressant medication valproic acid.

Valproic Acid (brand names Depakene, Depakote, Epilim, and Stavzor) is used to treat mania in people with bipolar disorder. It may also be used to treat outbursts of aggression in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

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“Molecules in chocolate, a variety of berries (including blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries) and foods containing omega-3 fatty acids have shown positive effects on mood. In turn, our studies show that some commonly used flavor components are structurally similar to valproic acid,” says Martinez-Mayorga. Teas and other comfort foods were also included in the analysis.

In addition to chemical structure, several of the foods noted above also have additional nutritional properties that can help smooth out mood swings. Chocolate, berries, and teas contain antioxidants which can help build energy and the capacity to help handle life’s stressors. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in foods such as salmon, can help your brain work at its optimal potential. Too little of this nutrient has been associated with depression.

Martinez-Mayorga notes that her team plans to begin testing the flavor/mood hypothesis experimentally as well. The end result may be dietary recommendations or new nutritional supplements with beneficial mood effects

However, she warns, “It is important to remember that just eating foods that may improve mood is not a substitute for prescribed antidepressive drugs.” And for people not requiring medication, she notes that eating specific foods and living a healthful lifestyle can generally boost mood.

Source: The American Chemical Society, research presented at the 244th National Meeting and Exposition held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.