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It probably comes as no surprise that the foods you eat can positively or negatively affect your mood, as well as your health. Much attention is paid to smart eating to keep you physically healthy, but what about your mental and emotional health? The Centers for Disease Control reports that anti-depressant pharmaceuticals are among the top three prescribed drugs. Although many people benefit from these drugs, there are a number of foods that might also be beneficial to add to your daily routine and diet.

Beans, seeds, nuts and whole grains are rich in zinc, which has been shown to help people with mood disorders, particularly those who suffer from depression. Bonus: The same foods also help with learning and memory.

Avocado, oranges, spinach, and asparagus contain high levels of folate and folic acid. Folate helps regulate serotonin, which contributes to feelings of well being. Bonus: Folic acid, taken daily, helps reduce the risk of heart disease.

Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, is known to release endorphins, which are chemicals produced by the nervous system that help with stress and anxiety. Hershey Bar anyone? Yes, please. Bonus: Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants and has been proven to help blood flow and lower blood pressure.

Green Tea is well known to help with heart health, but it also helps keep people calm if you consume it on a regular basis. Several studies reveal that green tea reduces symptoms of depression. Bonus: Compounds in green tea help sharpen brain function and thinking.

Sweet potatoes are very specific in the mood-enhancing capabilities. Rich in B vitamins (especially B6) and other antioxidants, sweet potatoes have been proven to help lift people up who may be suffering from depression, anxiety and even schizophrenia.  Bonus: Sweet potatoes are rich in fiber, and that’s good for everybody.

These are just a sampling of dozens of foods that help lift our spirits, reduce tension and anxiety and neutralize symptoms of depression. Others include almonds, bananas, salmon, bell peppers, sardines, eggs, turkey, dark leafy greens, and the list goes on. Eat well for health and happiness.

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