9 Delicious Foods to Boost Your Mood

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Last updated: August 6, 2020

Are you losing focus after that initial morning buzz? Does your mood drop as the day progresses? Or are you perhaps even feeling a little down and tired towards the end of the afternoon?

You may need to have a closer look at what you’re drinking and eating throughout the day, and make a few small changes to your daily diet. There are lots of foods out there that have the power to lift your mood when you most need it.

I have my own personal shortlist of foods I turn to when I need need to boost my mood and to go back into my happy place, especially when I still have lots of important things on my to-do list for the day.

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, you don’t mind the occasional sweet treat, and for me dark chocolate is at the top of the list. Chocolate has long been touted for its happiness-inducing effects, and it’s backed up by science too.

Dark chocolate bars

Dark chocolate contains certain molecules that can help lift your mood, such as tryptophan, phenylethylamine, and anandamide. Although it must be said that one 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 down, then I’m all for it. But as always, moderation is key.

2. Lentils

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.

Lentils salad

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.

3. Bananas

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.

Banana slices in bowl

It’s an excellent energy booster, which is why eating a bananas before a workout works so well for me. Bananas also offer more nutrients and vitamins than apples do, and we all know the saying about an apple keeping the doctor away.

Bananas contain tryptophan, a chemical that gets converted into serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter produced by the brain which helps make you feel happier.

4. Eggs

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.

Boiled eggs in bowl

Choline helps support the nervous system by assisting in the production of neurotransmitters, while selenium 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 just to eat them as snacks.

For breakfast, an omelette stuffed with mushrooms, spinach, and a bit of cheese makes a tasty meal that the whole family will love. Eggs can of course also be hard-boiled or poached, and eaten alongside a salad for lunch or dinner.

5. Yogurt

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.

Two cups with Greek yogurt

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.

6. Almonds

Great things come in small packages, and such is the case with almonds. These nuts may be small, but they are packed with nutrients that help support brain and heart health.

Almonds in a bowl

Almonds contain folate, tyrosine, magnesium, and antioxidants, just to name a few essential nutrients. Tyrosine is a precursor of the neurotransmitter dopamine, also known as the happy hormone because it helps to make you 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 health 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.

Salmon filet dish

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 why eating fish regularly is so important for us.

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, always works well for the whole family.

8. Avocado

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 form new cells in the body, and is also linked to serotonin.

Avocado salad

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.

Blackberries in bowl

And as we’ve seen with almonds and other nuts, this chemical helps you to wash away those negative feelings, and give your mood the boost that you need.

Final Thoughts

I hope you found some inspiration from the above list of mood boosting foods. This list is by no means complete though, as there are lots of 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.

A healthy and balanced diet is always the best way to get the most out of your day!

9 Delicious mood boosting foods

 
 
Donna Harrison

I created Healthy Food Tribe because I am passionate about discovering new foods and learning everything about them. I am also a smoothie fanatic and I document all my favorite recipes here on my blog.

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