11 Foods to Naturally Boost Your Mood and Make You Feel Happier

Editor’s Note: This post is a Care2 favorite, back by popular demand. It was originally posted on March 28, 2014. Enjoy!

If we’re stressed and not getting enough sleep, it’s easy to feel down, but there’s another big contributor to your mood: what you’re eating. With its refined sugar and trans fats, the Standard American Diet is throwing our bodies off, and if you feel like you’re in a funk, a lot of it can be related back to the food that you’re consuming. “The smallest choices each day can make a real difference in improving mental and emotional well-being, stabilizing your moods, and improving your focus,” says Dr. Drew Ramsey, author of The Happiness Diet.

Looking to boost your mood naturally? Here are 11 foods that help you do just that.

1. Swiss Chard

High in folate, also known as folic acid, swiss chard and other leafy greens are good for your mood. In fact, a study by the University of York and Hull York Medical School found a link between low folate levels and depression.

2. Dark Chocolate

If you needed another reason to indulge in dark chocolate, it’s this one: dark chocolate can make you happier. A study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that consuming chocolate high in cocoa flavanols increased levels of calmness and contentedness.

3. Eggs

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With their essential fatty acids, eggs help your body to naturally produce serotonin. Low serotonin levels are linked to depression, anxiety, insomnia and fatigue.

4. Almonds

Almonds pack a lot of nutrients, including folate and magnesium. Magnesium is essential to brain health, and studies have linked it to a reduction in depression, but is often deficient in modern diets. So eat more of those almonds!

5. Lentils 

Lentils are a good source of folate which is essential for your mood, and a cup of cooked lentils provides 90 percent of the recommended daily allowance of folic acid. Lentils also have the amino acid L-tyrosine, which your brain uses to make the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine, therefore helping your brain to combat depression.

6. Pumpkin Seeds

A zinc deficiency can trigger depressive moods, but fortunately pumpkin seeds are packed with the essential mineral. Pumpkin seeds also contain L-tryptophan, a natural mood booster.

7. Oatmeal

While some think oatmeal is one of the most boring foods on the planet, it’s good for your mental state. That’s thanks to a lot of things, including high levels of magnesium, which help your brain fight depression and anxiety. Since it’s also a great source of soluble fiber, it helps stabilize blood sugar levels, which helps you avoid mood swings.

8. Honey

The nutrients in honey produce a calming effect, helpful if you’re feeling anxious, which is why many mix it into a cup of tea in the evening. A natural sweetener, it’s also a good natural energy booster, so if you feel like you’re dragging, pop a spoonful in your mouth. Nature’s energy gel.

9. Flaxseed Oil

Our standard American Diet has left us very omega-3 deficient and that can be bad for your mental state: omega-3 has been shown to be an effective supplement for fighting depression. Flaxseed oil is an easy way to get a mega dose of omega-3 essential fatty acids, helping to improve your mood.

10. Water

A glass of water may be the simplest thing you can ingest, but it’s very helpful. Mild dehydration has been shown to dampen moods, which means if you want to feel mentally stronger, make sure you’re getting enough H2O throughout the day.

11. Asparagus

Feel like you’ve been having a lot of mood swings lately? Get some asparagus on your plate, because it is very high in folic acid — a deficiency that is common in people with depression.

Top Photo Credit: Liz West

563 comments

Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 months ago

thanks for the article.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallusabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

Elisa and Susan Petersen
Elisa and Susan Petersenabout a year ago

Thank you, this article is just what I needed. I am saving this one.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hillabout a year ago

thanks

Michelle Rasmussen
Michelle Rasmussenabout a year ago

Except water is not food. So this is a list of 10 foods that naturally boost your mood.

Nikki Davey
Nikki Davey1 years ago

I like most of these, good excuse.

federico bortoletto

Interessante,grazie.

Elizabeth Koenig
Elizabeth Koenig1 years ago

I've had every one of these foods in the past week--except for chard, which I'm using in an Italian veggie soup. All gpod stuff!

Sheri P.
Sheri P.1 years ago

thanks for the info! i love asparagus and dark chocolate! lentils give me heartburn, unfortunately.

Dan(iel)) M.
Dan(iel) M.1 years ago

Interesting