Happy foods?

Are there foods that can improve our mood, or even cure depression? What a wonderful thought, pick foods that will make you happier. But as with anything in life, moderation is the key.

Happy food in a pretty bowlThis week, I came across a tidbit of information about cashews. Just 1/2 cup of cashews, (and many other tree nuts), give you 30% DV of tryptophan.

Trypto…what? I was always led to believe that turkey had a lot of tryptophan in it and that makes you sleepy. Years later, I now think it is the huge quantity of food consumed at a typical turkey dinner that causes us to lumber over to the sofa.

Put in a simple way, tryptophan is an essential amino acid. This means we cannot manufacture it and therefore we must eat it. Amino acids perform many complicated, yet essential functions in our bodies. In addition, tryptophan functions as a biochemical precursor for serotonin, niacin and auxin. The bottom line is that when we don’t get enough tryptophan making its way into our blood, many things can go wrong, including depression.

Some super smart people like to create solutions to make us happy again. So they invented yet another pill, meant to target one part of our complex human biology. But I have to wonder, why not try to let the body work its own magic to heal itself?

And for those of us that seek to be just a little happier, why not let our diet be our guide?

Turns out that cashews don’t even top the list of foods high in tryptophan. So it depends more on what kind of life you want to lead and which foods you choose to help it be a happier one.  The World’s Healthiest Foods website gives us a chart listing foods high in tryptophan among many other nuggets of great information.

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