5 foods that may help you stay positive and get a 'mood boost'

Some foods are as good for your mental health as your physical health.

January 22, 2021, 4:00 AM

Amid the coronavirus pandemic and isolation, our mental health is more fragile than ever. For Mental Health Awareness Month, "GMA" is sharing resources, tips and ways to protect your mental health.

Run down, depressed, or trying to stay positive?

Don’t reach for a tub of ice cream or a big bag of chips. There’s growing evidence that you can boost your mood with food, but it has to be the right food.

Diet decisions that improve the rest of the body may also improve the brain’s outlook on the world.

Overall healthy eating -- fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and whole grains -- has been linked in studies to lower risks of depression and even suicide.

PHOTO: Healthy food is seen in this undated stock image.
Healthy food is seen in this undated stock image.
Fcafotodigital/Getty Images

Nutrition also influences the immune system, which has been shown to affect the risk of depression as well.

Try adding these five mood-boosting foods to your daily diet.

1. Salmon

Salmon is a nutritional powerhouse full of omega-3 fatty acids, a key nutrient that our bodies don't produce on their own.

Omega-3 fatty acids are part of the membranes that surround cells in the body, particularly in the brain. Research has shown that consuming fish like salmon with omega-3 fatty acids may ease depression.

PHOTO: Salmon is pictured in this undated stock photo.
Salmon is pictured in this undated stock photo.
STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images

Salmon is also an inflammation-fighting food.

Increased inflammation in the body could play a role in depression, according to new research released in January.

2. Dark chocolate

A candy bar may leave you feeling blah after you eat it, but a piece of dark chocolate could give you a mood boost.

PHOTO: Dark chocolate is pictured broken on vintage wooden board in this undated stock photo.
Dark chocolate is pictured broken on vintage wooden board in this undated stock photo.
STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images

Dark chocolate may be giving not only your brain but also your immune system and eyes a real boost, research shows.

Be careful, though, with the chocolate you choose.

In their studies, researchers used dark chocolate with 70% cacao, a recipe reserved for the darkest of dark chocolate. This usually means the chocolate tastes more bitter than sweet because only 30% of the candy bar is sugar and milk.

3. Berries

Fruits are all good for you as part of a balanced diet, but berries are particularly powerful for the brain.

PHOTO: Mixed berries are pictured in this undated stock photo.
Mixed berries are pictured in this undated stock photo.
STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images

Berries are rich in flavonoid, which helps regulate mood and improve memory and reduces inflammation.

4. Spinach and kale

Dark, leafy greens like spinach and kale are full of omega-3 fatty acids and are inflammation-fighting foods too.

PHOTO: Green leafy vegetables are pictured in this undated stock photo.
Green leafy vegetables are pictured in this undated stock photo.
STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images

Greens are also rich in magnesium, which plays a major role in brain function and mood.

5. Almonds

Almonds are a healthy fat, which boosts brain health.

PHOTO: Almonds are pictured in this undated stock photo.
Almonds are pictured in this undated stock photo.
STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images

They are also rich in a compound called tyrosine, which has been found to prevent a decline in cognitive function, especially in response to stress.

Editor's note: This story was originally published on June 27, 2018.

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