Foods that Boost Serotonin

by Sarah Harding, Contriubtor to Holistic Nutrition on

Serotonin plays an important role in regulating happiness, problem-solving and concentration. When the level of serotonin fluctuates, it can directly change an individual’s mood, sleep patterns, appetite, memory, ability to learn and comprehend, body temperature, heart performance and muscular functioning. A deficiency in serotonin is sometimes regulated with medication but consuming specific food items can boost the level of this chemical in the brain.

Fruits that Increase Serotonin

Various fruits boost serotonin and other mood-improving chemicals in the brain. Plums, pineapple, bananas and sour cherries can directly influence serotonin production. Bananas contain high levels of a chemical called tryptophan. This chemical is converted to serotonin in the brain. Melatonin, a chemical known for improving sleep, is found in sour cherries.

Serotonin Boost from Protein Sources

Turkey is another food known to contain high levels of tryptophan. Many people report feeling drowsy after eating turkey. The sleepiness following a large meal with turkey, such as the traditional Thanksgiving dinner, is somewhat due to tryptophan and serotonin but it is also due to eating a larger quantity of food. Other foods that can boost serotonin in the protein family include eggs, beef, wild fish and most animals that are free of growth-promoting hormones.

Carbohydrate-based Foods that Increase Serotonin

Carbohydrates can make a person feel full. Any grain or sugar-containing item is usually considered to be a carbohydrate source. When an individual feels the full sensation in the stomach, it can be rewarding in different ways. The person may feel satisfied because basic nourishment has been fulfilled, but the brain may also produce more serotonin as a result of the sugar and make up of the carbohydrate-based food. Examples of carbohydrate foods include pasta, bread and white potatoes. Dairy products consist of sugars that boost serotonin production. Examples include milk, Swiss cheese and cheddar cheese. The cheeses can increase other mood-boosting chemicals in the body having the same effect as an increase in serotonin.

Sweet Treats Boost Mood

Eating a favored sweet treat, like dark chocolate, can increase mood not just because it is so well-liked but also because it increases serotonin levels in the brain. Some sugary snacks can lead to a dip in energy, causing the individual to feel sleepy instead of energized or happier. For the purpose of increasing serotonin, foods lower in sugar will have a more lasting effect.

Things to Consider

Every individual will respond differently to various foods. The exact quantity of each food needed in order to increase serotonin has yet to be determined. Eating foods known to boost serotonin is not a recommended method of treatment for depression or other mood disorders associated with serotonin deficiencies. Instead, mood-boosting foods can be eaten during illness or other short-term events that cause a negative mood, fatigue, trouble concentrating and sleep problems.

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Jeramie D
Jeramie D3 months ago


B.J. M.
DJ M2 years ago

This article is useful for helping combat SAD. thanks

Val M.
Val M4 years ago


Ben F.
Ben Franke5 years ago

I take a supplement called "New Mood" to increase my general mood. It utilizes two raw building blocks of seratonin (the key neurotransmitter for mood regulation). Its so great for times of stress and I've found that seratonin also boosts your ability to learn and memorize. I've also had an amazing shift in how well I remember my dreams. Check it out at this link.

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W5 years ago


Christine Jones
Christine J5 years ago

I love dark chocolate, (actually any chocolate) and it always makes me feel good, but the difficulty is not eating too much of it.

a             y m.
g d c5 years ago


Penny C.
penny C5 years ago

Makes you sleepy.

Lindsay Kemp
Lindsay K5 years ago

Good news about the dark chocolate!

Ingrid Brown
Ingrid Brown5 years ago

But how much of each would one need to eat to feel the effect?