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Last updated: September 19, 2021
Are you losing focus after that initial morning buzz? Does your mood drop as the day progresses? Or are you perhaps feeling a little sluggish and tired towards the end of the afternoon?
You may need to have a closer look at what you’re consuming throughout the day, and make a few small changes to your food habits. There are in fact nutritious foods out there that can lift your mood when you most need it.
In this article, I am going to share my own personal shortlist of foods I turn to when I need a bit of a mood boost.
Top 9 Mood Boosting Foods
Here we go, nine mood boosting foods that work for me any time of day!
1. Dark Chocolate
If you’re anything like me, then you certainly don’t mind the occasional sweet treat. And for me personally, dark chocolate is at the top of the list.
Chocolate has long been touted for its happiness-inducing effects, and that’s even backed up by science too.
Dark chocolate contains certain molecules that can help lift your mood, such as tryptophan, phenylethylamine, and anandamide. Although it must be said that you would need rather high amounts of these to really experience the pleasurable effects, but still.
Dark chocolate makes for a great treat every now and then, and if it helps me to get those happy hormones up when I’m feeling a little low, then I’m all for it. But as always, moderation is key.
>> 6 Super delicious chocolate smoothie recipes.
Lentils come in different colors and sizes. These edible seeds make a great meat alternative, and are loaded with nutrients, such as zinc, magnesium, B vitamins, and potassium.
Brown lentils are the most commonly used in cooking stews and other dishes, with an earthy flavor and a shape that holds up well when cooked. Apart from being a good vegan source of protein, lentils are rich in iron too.
Lentils contain polyphenols which are believed to be responsible for improving blood sugar levels. They also help reduce high blood pressure, and contain folate for brain health.
I love turning lentils into soup for a hearty meal, and the best part is that it keeps well in the freezer and can be reheated for busy days.
This may be a bit of a no-brainer for some of us, but this list of mood boosting foods wouldn’t be complete without including bananas.
It’s the perfect energy booster, which is why eating a banana before a workout works so well for me. Bananas also have a better nutritional profile than many other fruits, such as apples.
Bananas contain tryptophan, a chemical that gets converted into serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter produced by the brain that can help get us into a better mood.
Eggs are considered a staple food in just about every household. Eggs are rich in a variety of nutrients including vitamin D, choline, protein, selenium, and vitamin B12.
Choline helps support the nervous system by assisting in the production of neurotransmitters, while selenium helps to supports brain function and the immune system.
The best thing about eggs is their versatility. So many recipes out there feature eggs, as they’re so easy to incorporate in different meals, or you can just eat them as a snack.
For breakfast, an omelette with mushrooms, spinach, and a bit of cheese makes for a super tasty meal. Eggs can of course also be hard-boiled or poached, and eaten alongside a salad for lunch or dinner.
Yogurt, a food produced through the fermentation of milk with the help of bacteria, is rich in calcium and protein. It is known to aid digestion by increasing healthy bacteria in the gut.
Studies also show that gut health and brain health are possibly connected, thanks to the fact that almost all of serotonin in the body is produced in the digestive tract. Focusing on gut health can bring about an improved mood, and probiotics such as yogurt can assist with that.
Apart from yogurt, other fermented food such as sauerkraut and kombucha, which contain probiotics, are also great if you want to give your mood a bit of a boost.
>> What is Greek yogurt?
Great things come in small packages, and such is the case with almonds. These nuts may be small, but they are packed with nutrients.
Almonds contain folate, tyrosine and magnesium, just to name a few essential nutrients. Tyrosine is a precursor of the neurotransmitter dopamine, also known as the happy hormone because it can help make us feel good.
It’s not only almonds though that contain tyrosine. Lots of other nut types, such as walnuts and cashew nuts, offer that very same benefit.
One of my favorite ways to eat almonds is incorporating them into granola bars. It takes less than 30 minutes to make, and you can pop them in the freezer for a quick snack at home or on the go.
7. Fatty Fish
Fatty and oily fish, such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel, are both nutritious and delicious. The two main nutrients that promote better mood are vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids.
People who don’t consume enough omega-3 fatty acids are more susceptible to low mood, because our brains need fat in the form of omega-3. This is one of the reasons why eating fish regularly is so important.
I love pan-frying salmon in a little bit of olive oil and garlic, and finishing off with some lemon zest for a burst of flavor. I try to do this at least once a week, and always works well for the whole family.
Avocados are not only rich in healthy mono-unsaturated fatty acids, but they also contain a high amount of folate.
Folate is a B-vitamin that helps with forming new cells in our bodies, and is also linked to serotonin.
Apart from being rich in folate, avocados are also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. So just like fatty fish, avocados also help promote brain health.
Avocados are great to snack on by itself, but also works well in salads and on sandwiches. My personal favorite is mashing avocado and adding chopped basil and a sprinkle of salt as a topping on toast. Quick, easy, and delicious.
9. Dark Berries
Berries, especially the dark ones such as blueberries and blackberries, are rich in antioxidants that support the production of dopamine.
And as we’ve seen with almonds and other nuts, this chemical helps you to wash away those negative feelings, and can give your mood that much needed boost.
>> Delicious magnesium rich foods.
>> Tips to eat more vegetables.
>> Healthy snack ideas for at work.
I hope you found some inspiration from the above list of delicious mood boosting foods.
This list is by no means complete though, as there are lots of other healthy and nutritious foods out there that can help you get through the day with a big smile on your face.
What matters perhaps even more is that you should also avoid eating foods that have a negative impact on your mood and energy levels, such as unhealthy snacks we all too often resort to in the afternoon.