While the notion of comfort foods is far from new, recently discovered evidence reveals a correlation of mood-enhancement and certain flavors of food. These flavors and types of foods all share one thing in common, a chemical semblance to valproic acid, a chemical commonly utilized in commercial mood-stabilizing medication.
Dr. Karina Martinez-Mayorga and her research team recently presented a study at the
244th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society, of over 1,700 substances that act as the molecular building-blocks of flavors found in common foods.
Martinez-Mayorga noted that molecules found overwhelmingly in chocolate, blueberries,
raspberries, strawberries, teas, and foods with high omega-3 fatty acid content are clearly linked with elevated moods. More specifically, these foods are molecularly structured in a way that nearly mirrors valproic acid.
Valporic acid is most commonly used to treat and help manage mood-swings in patients
suffering from manic-depressive disorder and is sold under various brand names. The large body of evidence found by Martinez-Mayorga and her team encourages the continued research to locate other mood regulators in food, including foods chemically linked to depression.
Martinez-Mayorga’s study spotlights the need for a broader spectrum of research regarding mood modification, not solely for pharmaceutical reasons, but for a general re-examination of food and beverage industries. While research has recognized the mood and behavior-altering properties of food for years now, Martinez-Mayorga and her team are seeking to pin-point the specific chemical compounds to maintain both cognitive and physical health and delay memory deterioration.
While it is important to always remember that changing one’s diet is never a substitute for prescribed medication, it is a wonderful and way to boost mood and improve general health. Various food supplements such as fish oil provide fantastic ways to boost your intake of omega-3 fatty acids and mirror the beneficial effects of valproic acid.