A new study found that women who ate the most bread, as well as pasta, sugar, and other refined carbs, had the highest incidence of depression. (Photo: Shutterstock)
Would you date someone who made you feel bad about yourself if they had a lot of dough?
In a lot of ways, that’s exactly what’s happening each time you sit down to the dinner table. Researchers followed 70,000 women who took part in a National Institutes of Health survey and found that those who ate the most bread, as well as pasta, sugar, and other refined carbs, had the highest incidence of depression. The scientists speculate that sugar crashes caused by the refined carbs lead, over time, to a chronic mood crash.
But like rich lovers, those carbs can be tasty and hard to give up. Fortunately, Eat This, Not That! has uncovered a handful of food swaps that hack your brain’s chemicals and reset your mood from foul to fair, even if you still reach for the bread basket. In fact, just making a handful of tweaks to your diet can turn around the dog days of summer and get your tail wagging again.
1. Best Get-Happy Drink Swap
2 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 g protein, 0 g sugar (per 1 cup)
0 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 g protein, 0 g sugar (per 1 cup)
We’ve already told you what happens to your body when you give up soda. Now, a study links soft drinks to depression, particularly the diet variety—those who drank more than four cans a day were 30% more likely to have had depression, due partly to the artificial sweetener aspartame. Instead, drink tea, which has been shown to reduce stress levels—we find chamomile, Rooibos and Pu-erh effective for relaxing and weight loss. In fact, we put test panelists on a new tea-based diet and they lost up to 10 pounds in one week—see for yourself on the The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Diet and Cleanse!
2. Best Get-Happy Candy Swap
Lindt 85% Cocoa Bar
230 calories, 18 g fat, 11 g saturated fat, 5 g protein, 5 g sugar (One serving, 4 squares)
Hershey’s Special Dark
190 calories, 12 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 2 g protein, 21 g sugar (One serving, one bar)
Dark chocolate perks up your brain in four different ways: it boosts serotonin and endorphins, the feel-good hormones; it’s rich in B vitamins and magnesium, which are noted cognitive boosters; it contains small amounts of caffeine, which helps with short-term concentration; and it contains theobromine, a stimulant that delivers a different sort of buzz, minus the espresso shakes. The catch: most treats labeled “dark chocolate” have had the healthy nutrients processed out of them. A product like Hershey’s Special Dark is made with alkalized, or “Dutch” chocolate, which destroys up to 75% of the healthy ingredients in the chocolate. We prefer Green & Black’s Organic Dark Chocolate—it’s a guilt-free addition to any diet. Blast even more fat, each and every day, with these other essential 9 Best Flat-Belly Superfoods!
3. Best Get-Happy Vegetable Swap
Red Bell Peppers
3 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0.1 g protein, 0.5 g sugar (1 tbsp)
Green Bell Pepper
3 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0.1 g protein, 0.4 g sugar (1 tbsp)
Why red? Aren’t all peppers the same? In fact, red bell peppers—which have been allowed to ripen on the vine and not picked when still green—have considerably higher nutrient scores than their underdeveloped brethren—more than double the vitamin C and up to 8 times as much vitamin A. In a recent survey of nutrient density, researchers at William Paterson University ranked red peppers as second only to leafy greens as the most potent of vegetables. The higher concentration of vitamins helps to not only improve your mood directly, but to also boost your immune system and lessen cold symptoms. Stir-fry or roast them if you’re not down with nibbling them raw to get the most of their vitamins and nutrients. And click here to Discover Which Color Fruit Helps You Lose the Most Weight!
4. Best Get-Happy Condiment Swap
0 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 g protein, 0 g sugar (1 tbsp)
90 calories, 10 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 0 g protein, 0 g sugar (1 tbsp)
Mayonnaise, made from grain and seed oils, provides a whopping 11,359 mg of omega-6 per ounce. Cool, you say—aren’t omega-6s good? Well, while essential, omega-6s are also inflammatory, and are linked to obesity, diabetes and depression. The humble yellow mustard, on the other hand, is among the top dozen or so sources of omega-3 acids, with nearly half as much, ounce per ounce, as canned tuna. A 2013 study in the Journal of Nutrition found that higher levels of omega-3s relative to omega-6s were linked to lower risks of depression. Swap that mayo for mustard, for a mental health boost.
5. Best Get-Happy Snack Swap
142 calories, 6 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 6 g protein, 0.3 g sugar (½ cup)
Chex Mix Bold Party Blend
120 calories, 3.5 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 2 g protein, 1.8 g sugar (½ cup)
Pumpkin seeds are like crunchy little nuggets of Prozac Helper. They’re one of the best food sources of an amino acid known as tryptophan, which helps the production of serotonin in your brain. Antidepressants help the brain to circulate serotonin, so if you’re taking them now, these little pumpkin pick-me-ups may make them even more effective. Spice them up and swap them in now for Chex Mix, which is made from wheat, corn, and vegetable oil, all of which are high in omega-6 fatty acids. As we mentioned above, a study found that those with the highest intake of omega-6 fatty acids have twice the risk of becoming depressed. Pumpkin seeds also have a healthy 12 grams of protein per cup. For other muscle-building foods, don’t miss these astonishing 6 Surprising Foods with More Protein Than an Egg!
6. Best Get-Happy Juice Swap
R.W. Knudsen Just Blueberry Juice
100 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 g protein, 18 g sugar (1 cup, 8 oz)
V8 Splash Berry Blend
70 calories, 0g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 g protein, 18g sugar (1 cup, 8 oz)
Why blueberry juice specifically? Berries carry heavy doses of vitamin C. If you get too little C—a possibility as we head into fall, and you’re hunkering down on comfort foods —can lead to fatigue, depression and low motivation. Avoid the imposter “juices” like V8 Splash, which a pathetic 10 percent juice, and power up with R.W. Knudsen Just Blueberry. Add a glass in the AM, along with these 8 Ways to Lose Weight Before Noon!
7. Best Get-Happy Salad Swap
Romaine salad with vinaigrette
45 calories, 4.1 g fat, 0.6 g saturated fat, 1 g protein, 1 g sugar (1 cup)
Traditional Romaine Ceasar salad
184 calories, 15.3 g fat, 2.8 g saturated fat, 5 g protein, 1.3 g sugar (1 cup)
Kale gets all the green-market glory, and everyone knows what spinach has done for Popeye, but humble Romaine lettuce tops them both in nutrient density, according to William Paterson University researchers. One of the main nutrients in Romaine and other leafy greens is the B vitamin folate. Recent Finnish research showed that low folate levels were found in depressed members of the population.
Unfortunately, proud Romaine is often downgraded to a veritable junk food when it’s paired up with commercial Caesar salad dressing, an oil-based bastardization of the traditional Italian recipe that’s one of the foods highest in depression-causing omega-6 acids. Lift your spirits by topping your salad with an olive oil vinaigrette, which boasts both heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and mood-boosting mustard seed.
DON’T MISS THE 6 AMAZING WAYS YOUR BODY CHANGES WHEN YOU GIVE UP CARBS—CLICK HERE!
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