Certain foods, along with exercise and meditation, can help improve your mood. Serotonin is the key chemical element behind your mood. It is a neurotransmitter that’s been called the “happy molecule” for the important role it plays in maintaining a positive mood.
Serotonin is a chemical nerve cells produce, and impacts every part of your body, from your emotions to your motor skills. Serotonin is considered a natural mood stabilizer. It’s the chemical that helps with sleeping, eating, and digesting. Serotonin also helps:
- reduce depression
- regulate anxiety
- heal wounds
- maintain bone health
Most “serotonin foods” are actually lists of foods that contain tryptophan, an amino acid that’s a precursor of serotonin. Most foods that are good sources of protein are also good sources of tryptophan. These 7 “serotonin foods” are an excellent choice to help improve your mood.
Bananas offer serious mood-lifting power, with their combination of vitamins B6, A, and C; fiber; tryptophan; potassium; phosphorous; iron; protein; and healthy carbohydrates. When you eat a banana, you’ll get a quick boost from the fructose as well as sustaining energy from the fiber, which helps prevent a blood sugar spike and ensuing drop in energy and mood. Carbohydrates aid in the absorption of tryptophan in the brain, and vitamin B6 helps convert the tryptophan into mood-lifting serotonin.
As if you needed another reason to love spinach! This leafy green is loaded with all sorts of mood-boosting nutrients, from depression-fighting folates to anxiety-easing magnesium. Spinach also contains plenty of zinc — studies have shown that the less zinc you have in your body, the more likely you are to be depressed.
Nuts, especially walnuts and almonds, contain a handful of components that contribute to a good mood, including omega-3s, vitamin B6, tryptophan, protein, and folate. Higher blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids have been linked with better mood and lower rates of depression, while lower blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids have been associated with higher rates of depression and negative feelings.
Oily and fatty fish are one of the best mood-enhancing foods that are a rich source of the mood-enhancing nutrient omega-3 fatty acid. DHA omega-3 fatty acid is present in fish oil and promotes the secretion of a corticotropin-releasing hormone that controls emotional impulses and helps in controlling anger and aggression, and balancing your mood. In addition, omega-3 fatty acid is an effective nutrient for enhancing brain functions and improving cognitive performance.
Eggs might not be the first food that comes to mind when you think of a mood enhancer, but a hard-boiled egg is easy to make and easy to transport. Full of high-quality protein and omega-3 fatty acids (from hens eating a diet rich in omega-3s), eggs are also an excellent source of vitamin B12 (riboflavin) and a good source of vitamins B2, B5, and D. And one boiled egg contains more than 20 percent of the daily recommended amount of tryptophan.
6. Red beans
Legumes, such as red beans, are rich in folic acid and are a key nutrient for treating depression. Like its B vitamin cousin, vitamin B12, plenty of research has linked low levels of folic acid to depression. It’s also thought that high levels of the vitamin will actually help anti-depressants work more effectively. Red beans are rich in Vitamin B’s, thus, the food has the functions of stabilizing neural conduction and suppressing anxiety.
7. Dark chocolate
A number of unscientific studies name chocolate the No. 1 craved food in the West, so it makes sense that indulging in chocolate makes for a happy experience. And, as it turns out, there are some real reasons why that’s so. For one, dark chocolate contains a number of substances that elevate mood, including fat, sugar, caffeine, phenylethylamine, flavonols, theobromine, and tryptophan.
Translated by Jean Chen.