Healthy Eating Tips

A Nutritional Psychiatrist Says This Underrated Green Is a Natural Mood Booster

Kells McPhillips

Photo: Getty Images/Matt Porteous

Every leafy green vegetable comes packed with nutrients—just take your pick. If you’re looking for vitamin C and calcium in every bite, consider kale your main squeeze; if iron and magnesium are what you need, just reach for spinach. What you may not know yet is that mesclun—a mix of greens traditionally including arugula, chervil leafy lettuces, and endive—has a stellar reputation for boosting your mood, according to nutritional psychiatrist Drew Ramsey, MD.

“If you’re consuming nutrient-dense foods, especially ones high in antidepressant nutrients like leafy greens, you’re actively protecting your brain from depression by virtue of the power of antidepressant nutrients like zinc, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and K,” writes Dr. Ramsey. Mesclun just so happens to tick all six of these nutrient boxes, but is highest in vitamin K: a mood-booster that also happens to build strong bones.

Now that mesclun has piqued your interest, you’re probably wondering how to make the mustard green taste good. (Sorry, mesclun, but you’re not exactly delicious to munch on raw.) You’re in luck, because Dr. Ramsey also recommended four other happiness-generating foods… and they just so happen to be the perfect squad for a great big bowl of salad: avocado, lentils, lox, and yogurt.

Once you have your base of mesclun and other assorted greens all ready to go, slice up your avocado (carefully!) and sprinkle it on top. Add your lox (for omega-3s and protein), cook up a half-cup lentils (for plant-based protein and a whopping 8 grams of fiber), and prepare a yogurt dressing. Combine three tablespoons of unflavored Greek yogurt with a squeeze of lemon and enough olive oil to reach your desired consistency. Then, add salt, pepper, garlic powder, and any of your other fave spices. I like dill or rosemary, but it’s up to you!

Once your dressing is ready and waiting, drizzle it over your vibrant salad and get ready for a mood glow up you’ve been longing for all day. “As a Nutritional Psychiatrist, my goal is to make you aware of the foods that can have a major impact on your mental health and mood,” writes Dr. Ramsey. “This is a great way to focus on those things that we can control through these extraordinary circumstances.”

Now you’re aware of one more food to turn to on those no good, very bad days (and you have a beautiful salad ready, to boot).

Keep the mood-boosting party alive with this berry bark: 

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