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6 Energy-Boosting Foods to Help Crush Your To-Do List

Even on a typical day (what are those?), we could all use a pick-me-up. Luckily, your options don’t end with the barista. These mood-boosting foods will not only give you an immediate kick, but eating more of them can actually help increase your energy levels over time. So, next time you find yourself with a general malaise, try biting into one of these.

Chocolate

At the Nestle Research center in – you guessed it – Switzerland, they found that eating 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate daily for two weeks reduced stress hormones, including cortisol in people who were already highly stressed.

Complex Carbs

Pasta-phobia be damned. The right complex carbs (ie. whole grains and fruit) are essential to energy levels. Most professional athletes will load up on complex carbs before a match or race that requires a massive exertion of energy. Researchers also suspect that carbs promote the production of serotonin, a feel-good brain chemical.

Fruits & Veggies

Folate, a B vitamin found in citrus and dark green vegetables like spinach, boosts your neurotransmitters that positively impact mood, and fruits and veggies that are rich in vitamin C and potassium provide an immediate brain boost. Some studies have shown a banana each morning can make your brain function just as highly as a cup of coffee! As always, the more the better.

Fish

Oily, fatty fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, rainbow trout) and mussels provide essential omega-3s—a key mood-boosting nutrient and one our bodies don’t produce. Omega-3s alter brain chemicals linked with mood—specifically dopamine and serotonin.

Saffron

Researchers believe that the spice works almost the same way as Prozac, by releasing more serotonin to the brain with every bite. Try adding some to the next pot of rice, stir-fry, or salad dressing and see if you experience an extra skip in your step.

Coconut

The scent of coconut may blunt your natural “fight or flight” response, slowing your heart rate in times of increased stress. People who breathed in coconut fragrance in a small pilot study at Columbia University saw their blood pressure recover faster after a stressful activity. It might just remind us of suntan lotion, pina coladas, and an exotic beach far, far away from your desk – either way, unsweetened coconut is a must.

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