Mood Foods: 6 Snacks to Kick Your Mind Into Gear

Your Mood: Anxious

You need to stay sharp through a grueling job interview.

Your Meal: Half a grilled-chicken wrap at lunch, hold the mayo

Here's Why: Eating between 4 and 5 ounces of protein helps your brain create dopamine and norepinephrine, neurochemicals that keep you alert, says Judith Wurtman, Ph.D., author of The Serotonin Power Diet.

Your Mood: Stressed

You have to meet a deadline without being overwhelmed.


Your Meal: A handful of sesame seeds while you're working

Here's Why: Stress hormones can deplete your body's supply of magnesium, reducing your stress-coping abilities and increasing your risk of developing high blood pressure, says Elizabeth Somer, R.D., author of Food & Mood.

Your Mood: Restless

You need some serious shut-eye before the big day.

Your Meal: Nonfat popcorn half an hour before you go to bed

Here's Why: The carbs will induce your body to create serotonin, a neurochemical that makes you feel relaxed. "Make sure it's fat-free, because fat will slow the process of boosting serotonin levels," says Somer.

Your Mood: Depressed

Problems at home are doing you in.

Your Meal: Grilled salmon or sushi for dinner

Here's Why: A study in Finland found that people who eat more fish are 31 percent less likely to suffer from depression. And skip sweet, simple carbs­ — the inevitable sugar crash can actually deepen depression.

Your Mood: Insecure

Your confidence is waning as the night wears on.

Your Meal: A snack-size chocolate bar

Here's Why: Chocolate contains a host of chemicals to brighten your mood, Somer says, including anadamine, which targets the same receptors as THC, and phenylethylamine, which produces a cozy, euphoric feeling.

Your Mood: Flummoxed

You've forgotten your last two deadlines.

Your Meal: Pineapple chunks for a snack or a cup of berries in your oatmeal

Here's Why: Antioxidants from the most-colorful fruits and vegetables help pick off the free radicals that wear away at your memory. "Because your brain consumes so much oxygen, oxidants do heavy damage there," says Somer.

Foods that Cure

Minor tweaks in your diet can help fend off everything from splitting headaches to heart attacks. Three dietary tweaks from Joy Bauer, R.D., author of Joy Bauer's Food Cures:

Migraine Headaches
Migraines have many food causes. Keep a meal log for a month to see which triggers affect your head.

Eat This: Foods rich in healthy fats, such as olive oil, avocado, and salmon, help reduce inflammation, a catalyst for migraines. Riboflavin, found in lean beef and grains, helps cells maintain energy reserves, which can prevent the onset of migraines.

Not That: Nitrites, found in deli meats, bacon, and hot dogs; aspartame, the artificial sweetener found in diet soft drinks; caffeine

Irritable-Bowel Syndrome
One in five Americans is affected by IBS. A careful diet is the best cure.

Eat This: Soft foods and foods rich in soluble fiber, such as oatmeal, barley, bananas, and sweet potatoes

Not That: When symptoms are strong, limit vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, which are hard for the body to break down. Other common triggers: dairy products, spicy foods, alcohol, and caffeine

Cardiovascular Disease
A diet of heart-healthy fats may help prevent you from being one of the 1.5 million Americans who have heart attacks each year.

Eat This: Foods that boost good cholesterol (HDL), like canned tuna, mackerel, olive oil, avocado, and most nuts

Not That: Trans fat-laden foods, such as margarine; refined carbohydrates, which spike blood-thickening triglycerides; sugary soft drinks, juice, and white bread

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