By: Daniel Amen, M.D., Founding Daniel Plan Doctor and Renowned Brain Expert
If you want to feel your best and do your best thinking, you have to give your brain and body high-quality nutrition. Certain foods offer an abundance of bliss-enhancing nutrients that can help you feel more relaxed and lift your mood, naturally. Here are just 5 of my favorites:
1. Sugar-Free Dark Chocolate: Cacao beans—used to make chocolate—contain hundreds of blissful, health-promoting properties that support a positive mood, the natural ability to focus, and a healthy cardiovascular system. One such property is a phenylethylamine (PEA), a natural chemical released by your brain when falling in love.
2. Raw Spinach: Dark leafy greens such as raw spinach, chard and kale are full of magnesium, an essential nutrient that encourages mind/body relaxation, decreased pain, better sleep, and so much more. Substitute raw spinach anywhere you would use lettuce for an instant bliss-boost!
3. Lean, High-Quality Protein: Protein satiates, helps balance blood sugar and provides the necessary building blocks for brain health. Eating a little bit of high-quality protein multiple times per day will help your brain produce dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter involved in pleasure, focus and motivation.
4. Walnuts: Reminiscent of tiny brains, walnuts are the perfect on-the-go brain food! They are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, an essential nutrient that supports healthy brain cell membranes. Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids are wonderful for supporting a positive mood, the ability to get a good night’s sleep, a healthy memory, and so much more.
5. Saffron: Ancient cultures around the world have cherished saffron for centuries and have cultivated it for use as a culinary spice, digestion aid and mood-boosting aphrodisiac. This vibrant-hued spice is known as the most expensive in the world—for good reason. New research suggests that saffron may support healthy levels of serotonin in the brain, a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of happiness and well-being.