What Foods Can Boost Your Mood and Make You Feel Happy?

Reviewed on 1/23/2023

Does food affect your mood?

Healthy eating patterns and a diet packed with mood-boosting nutrients can prevent mental and physical health issues. Foods that can boost mood and make you feel happy include dark chocolate, blueberries, nuts, and other foods.
Healthy eating patterns and a diet packed with mood-boosting nutrients can prevent mental and physical health issues. Foods that can boost mood and make you feel happy include dark chocolate, blueberries, nuts, and other foods.

You tend to crave food that lifts your mood when you're low. People often turn to comfort food that’s high in calories. It can take a toll on your body and cause health problems in the long run. But there are healthy mood-boosting foods you can munch on to feel happy and energetic. 

Here are some mood-boosting foods you can include in your diet.

You are what you eat. So it's smart to eat healthy food that strengthens your mind and body. You may find it difficult to keep up with what’s good and healthy and tend to choose easier options like fast food. But research shows that what you eat affects how you feel, both mentally and physically. 

Unhealthy eating patterns and diets rich in processed carbohydrates can lead to mood swings. They can also increase your risk of anxiety and mood disorders like depression. Unhealthy eating repeatedly increases and decreases your blood sugar. Such fluctuations can cause nutrient imbalances and affect your physical and mental well-being. 

Healthy eating patterns and a diet packed with mood-boosting nutrients can prevent mental and physical health issues. So including healthy mood-boosting food can protect your mind and body and make you feel happy and energetic.

What are some mood-boosting foods?

Here are 10 mood-boosting foods to kick the blues away:

1. Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate is a feel-good food, associated with pleasure and delight. It satisfies your comfort food cravings, especially during emotional eating.

Dark chocolate contains mood-boosting nutrients, such as cocoa polyphenols like flavonols and methylxanthine. They also contain alkaloids like theobromine and essential amino acids like tryptophan, which are the building blocks of brain chemicals or neurotransmitters like serotonin.

Studies show that dark chocolate has bioactive compounds and essential nutrients that stimulate brain activity. They also increase blood flow to the brain and prevent inflammation and damage to brain cells. These effects help alleviate bad mood and make you feel good when you eat dark chocolate.

Research also shows that dark chocolate containing 85% cocoa promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut. The good bacteria improve your gut health, boost immunity, and uplift your mood.

Dig into some dark chocolate to instantly brighten your mood.

2. Blueberries

Inflammation and oxidative damage caused by toxic molecules can attack brain cells and cause mood disorders like depression. Foods rich in antioxidants have anti-inflammatory effects and can reverse oxidative damage.

Berries, especially blueberries, are packed with various antioxidants and polyphenols. They protect your brain cells from toxic free radicals. Blueberries have high levels of flavonoids called anthocyanins, pigments that give blueberries their purplish-blue color. 

Evidence suggests children and young adults who consume blueberry flavonoids have a positive mood. Blueberry flavonoids also play an important role in decreasing the risk of depression and other mood disorders.

If you’re feeling low, snack on some blueberries to lift your spirits. 

3. Nuts 

Nuts like peanuts, almonds, and walnuts are rich sources of good fats, plant proteins, and fiber. They also contain vitamins and minerals that boost brain health. 

Peanuts are rich in the amino acid tryptophan and vitamin B6. Walnuts are known as “brain food” because they’re among the richest sources of healthy fats called omega-3 fatty acids. Almonds are rich in B vitamins and the amino acid tyrosine, which forms the neurotransmitter dopamine. All these nutrients help boost your mood and energy. They also prevent signs of mood disorders.

4. Seeds

Seeds like pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds are healthy snacks that help regulate your mood. 

Pumpkin seeds have high tryptophan and magnesium content. They are mood-boosting foods that help you relax. Flaxseeds and chia seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which boost brain health and function. They help improve concentration and mood. Sunflower seeds are rich in vitamin E, selenium, and magnesium, which calm you down and relieve stress and anxiety. Sesame seeds have high levels of zinc, which helps combat depression and anxiety.

5. Fruits like apples and grapes

Fruits like apples and grapes contain a plant pigment called quercetin. It works as a natural antidepressant and increases the production of brain chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, which control your mood. Fruits are also rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber, all of which make you feel better. 

6. Spinach

Spinach is rich in antioxidants that have anti-stress and anti-depressive effects. Studies in mice show that spinach extract decreases stress-related hormones and increases mood-boosting chemicals in their brains.

Spinach also has folate, magnesium, and the amino acid tryptophan. These nutrients promote brain health, boost healthy sleep, and reduce anxiety. It also contains alpha-linolenic acid, which the body converts into omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids boost brain power and improve mood.

Include spinach in your diet in salads, soups, and stews.

7. Fermented foods

Fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, and sauerkraut are probiotics. They contain beneficial bacteria, which improve your gut health and mood. They also improve your sleep quality, which is important to stay healthy and feel good.

8. Fatty fish

Fatty fish like salmon and tuna have high levels of protein and omega-3 fatty acids called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). They are essential for brain development and function. Research shows that they are also associated with a decreased risk of depression and mood disorders. 

Add salmon and tuna to your diet to uplift your mood and improve your brain health.

9. Legumes

Legumes like beans and lentils are high in fiber, plant proteins, and mood-boosting nutrients like B vitamins. They help improve your gut health and mood by stimulating mood-regulating brain chemicals or neurotransmitters like dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). They promote proper communication between your brain cells, keep your brain healthy, and may help prevent mood disorders.

Have them in salads, stews, soups, and more to boost your mental health

10. Herbs

Herbs like St. John’s wort, milky oats, rosemary, peppermint, lavender, passion flower, lemon balm, and more have aromatic compounds and nutrients that can strengthen your mental health, regulate your mood, and restore your vitality. They help reduce stress and calm you down. You can add them to your diet as teas.

Tips to boost your mood with food

Here are some tips to boost your mood with food:

  • Eat regularly to keep your sugar levels steady and prevent tiredness and irritability.
  • Stay hydrated to prevent constipation and help you feel fresh, concentrate, and think clearly. 
  • Have vegetables and fruits to get fiber, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants for physical and mental well-being.
  • Eat probiotic foods like yogurt to aid digestion and boost your mood.
  • The chemicals that help you think and feel are made from proteins. So add protein sources like legumes, fatty fish, nuts, and seeds. 
  • Add healthy fats to your meals to boost your brain and body. 

SLIDESHOW

Heart Healthy Diet: 25 Foods You Should Eat See Slideshow

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References
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