These Miracle Superfoods Boost Serotonin and Help Fight Depression
6. Blueberries According to research, eating blueberries boosts mood just two hours after consuming them. Flavonoids in blueberries improve executive function, which relieves symptoms of depression… Samantha Davis - July 25, 2022
According to research, eating blueberries boosts mood just two hours after consuming them. Flavonoids in blueberries improve executive function, which relieves symptoms of depression like feeling foggy and memory loss. Blueberries also have been linked to improving symptoms of depression and PTSD. Plus, the B vitamins provide energy and boost alertness by increasing blood flow to the brain.
Researchers recently identified low levels of the gene SKA2 being responsible for low mood, particularly in individuals who committed suicide. Eating blueberries raises levels of this gene and negates depressive feelings. Blueberries also contain monoamine oxidase, an enzyme with positive effects on serotonin and dopamine, two brain chemicals that play a major role in mood.
Yogurt contains probiotics that boost mood by improving gut health. Probiotics nourish “good” bacteria in the digestive tract and create an optimal environment for producing key hormones related to mental health. Eating enough probiotics has also been associated with lower stress levels and anxiety, particularly because they help regulate mood.
Furthermore, decreasing gut inflammation increases tryptophan levels. Tryptophan is an important amino acid involved in the production of serotonin. Many SSRIs used to treat depression work by increasing serotonin levels just like probiotics. However, probiotics do this without the same risky side effects of SSRIs, so there is a relatively low risk of trying them as an alternative treatment.
Coffee is full of polyphenols that pass through the blood-brain barrier and work quickly to decrease inflammation in the brain. In addition to improving alertness by boosting blood flow, this also decreases the likelihood of affective disorders like depression. Furthermore, coffee helps prevent cognitive disorders because of its effect on inflammation.
In addition to increasing blood flow by widening blood vessels, coffee boosts alertness because of the caffeine content. Caffeine improves things like memory, motivation, and mental alertness. People struggling with mood disorders and depression may also struggle with these things, so it helps with symptoms of low mood as well.
For mood, the real benefit of spinach comes from magnesium. Magnesium deficiency has been linked to increased occurrence of depression and anxiety and like with Vitamin D, research shows a lot of Americans are deficient in the mineral. Furthermore, high levels of magnesium have been linked to higher levels of serotonin in the brain, especially in people who are deficient.
As serotonin levels increase, spinach naturally boosts mood. It’s also full of fiber for digestion and better gut health. Plus, spinach works to pull metals stored in the body and removes them as waste. In addition to these benefits, the B-vitamins are great for energy spinach has been linked to lower blood sugar levels and decreased inflammation in the body.
Many people rely on a jolt of caffeine from their morning coffee to wake up, but swapping this out for an apple might have benefits for your brain and mood. It starts waking you up because it’s full of easy-to-digest natural sugars. Apples are also full of B-vitamins that give you an energy boost, too.
Apples are also full of all types of nutrients, including high levels of fiber. Fiber is critical to keeping things moving in the digestive system and promotes gut health too. A healthy gut is essential for producing key hormones that balance mood. Also, unlike coffee, you’re less likely to experience mood crashes when you start your day with an apple.
Compared to other meats, chicken is low in fat but high in protein that digests slowly in the body. As a quality protein, chicken digests slowly in the body. It prevents blood sugar spikes as it digests, which plays a big role in preventing mood swings. Eating chicken also provides sustainable energy throughout the day and keeps you fuller longer.
Another benefit of chicken is that it is high in various vitamins and minerals, as well as the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin production, so low levels have been linked to low mood. Additionally, increasing levels of tryptophan boosts serotonin even in people without a deficiency.
Pasta gets a bad rap because of the carbohydrate content, particularly in a time where people are constantly eating Keto or going gluten-free to lose weight. However, one of the healthiest diets- the Mediterranean diet- often includes pasta as a staple carb. Of course, those pasta dishes are also full of olive oil, proteins, beans, and tons of veggies for a nutritious dish that keeps you full and provides tons of health benefits.
Pasta is a complex carbohydrate that provides sustainable glucose that energizes the body rather than causing blood sugar spikes associated with mood swings. There’s also fiber and gut health benefits if you choose whole grain pasta. Whole grain pasta is also enriched with extra nutrients. Since high blood sugar has been linked to mood swings, it’s no surprise that keeping levels even would benefit mood.
Grass-fed beef is rich in iron and B-vitamins, but it’s a lot better for you than other types of red meat. It contains less saturated fat and greater concentrations of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. When you choose grass-fed, there’s also a great concentration of Omega-3 fatty acids that benefit the brain and your mood.
According to research, Omega-3 supplementation is an effective way to treat depression in some patients. The protein is sustaining and B-vitamins provide your body with energy that can perk you up. Furthermore, it’s a powerful antioxidant that prevents inflammation that has been linked to mood disorders, neurodegenerative disorders, and many other health conditions.
A small pumpkin seed packs a powerful nutritional punch. They are made primarily of fats and protein and provide a healthy dose of fiber for digestive health. With gut health being so critical in the formation of hormones that stabilize mood, anything that promotes digestive health can improve your mood.
Pumpkin seeds also contain magnesium which promotes mental health and Omega-3 fatty acids. They also containbtryptophan, which is a precursor for serotonin production, and L-tryptophan, which is a precursor to melatonin which helps you get a better night of sleep. A person’s mood is always more balanced when they are well-rested.
Research on the human diet has taught us that the brain prefers to burn glucose for fuel. Glucose is the sugar naturally found in carbohydrates. That being said, not all carbohydrates are created equally. Low-quality carbohydrates digest quickly, resulting in blood sugar spikes. As energy levels go up and then bottom out, so does your mood.
The quick increase and sharp drop in energy results in brain fog and mood swings. When you eat sustainable foods like pasta, however, your body has the energy needed to regulate mood. Whole grains also nourish the good bacteria in your digestive tract. A healthy gut microbiome has been linked to better mood and lower occurrence of mental health problems.
The major benefit of strawberries on mood comes from the Omega-3 acid ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) found in strawberry seeds. ALA has mood-enhancing effects like blueberries, so you’ll start feeling the benefits not long after consumption. Researchers believe this has something to do with the way ALA interacts with serotonin, especially in times of stress.
Strawberries also have a low glycemic index. This means that despite their natural sugars, they won’t cause blood sugar spikes that result in mood imbalance. Instead, they provide sustainable energy. Strawberries are also a great source of dietary fiber. Dietary fiber is critical for removing waste from the body and improving gut health, which builds the foundation for healthy hormone production in the body.
Seaweed is considered a superfood because it’s full of micronutrients, Omega-3 fatty acids, and essential vitamins. It is also full of fiber and easy for the body to digest. By being easily digested, this means your body actually absorbs all the vitamins and minerals from the seaweed. Plus, the digestive fiber helps move along waste products and nourish the good bacteria in your digestive tract.
For mood, seaweed’s iodine and selenium content are especially beneficial. These minerals are essential to metabolism and thyroid function. Thyroid function is especially important for mood regulation because it controls the production of important hormones that are responsible for balancing mood. Plus, selenium deficiency and thyroid dysfunction have both been linked to depression.
Eggs pack a nutritional punch and contain Omega 3s, B-vitamins, and amino acids for energy. When you provide your body and brain with healthy sources of sustainable energy like eggs, there’s less chance of blood sugar spikes and fatigue. Omega 3s and amino acids also fight inflammation that can impede bloodflow to the brain, make you feel sluggish. Being tired plays a big role in energy levels and overall mood.
Furthermore, eggs contain nutrients like zinc and iodide. Zinc shows a lot of promise in the treatment of depression and relieves symptoms associated with mood disorders. Iodide is essential for healthy thyroid function and balancing fluid levels through the body. Since the thyroid is where many key mood hormones are made, healthy thyroid function goes a long way in balancing mood.
Coconut water is incredibly hydrating because it helps your body retain water. It also provides minerals and electrolytes for energy, including iodine, selenium, zinc, and magnesium. Iodine is especially important for hormone production and both magnesium and zinc have shown promise in treating anxiety and depression according to research.
As an added benefit, coconut water balances blood sugar levels while providing energy. Not only does it prevent mood imbalances by providing steady energy, but it also decreases the risk of blood sugar spikes over time by lowering HbA1c levels. With a lower starting level of hemoglobin, the body digests carbohydrates better so spikes don’t happen. It can even help manage early symptoms of diabetes in some people.
In a recent study from Harvard Medical School, researchers showed a strong connection between the increase in carotenoid and optimism. Carrots contain high levels of carotenoid, particularly beta carotene. This means that eating a handful of carrots regularly can boost your mood. Furthermore, carrots are full of antioxidants that fight inflammation.
According to the research, people who get enough beta carotene in their diet are less likely to develop symptoms of depression. The body converts beta carotene to vitamin A, which plays a critical role in energy metabolism and the production of hormones. Plus, carrots contain fiber that improves digestive health and have detoxifying benefits.
Mussels are a great source of protein, healthy fats, and vitamin B12. You can get an impressive 340% of your daily recommended amount of B12 in a 3-ounce serving. B12 plays a big role in mood because when you are deficient, it causes symptoms like fuzzy thoughts and low mood.
Mussels also contain selenium and iodide, both essential nutrients for healthy thyroid function. The thyroid is critical in the production of mood-balancing hormones. Furthermore, mussels are full of Omega-3 fatty acids that have brain-boosting and protecting benefits. The manganese in mussels also helps fight free radicals in the brain.
In one study published in the Journal of Psychopharmocology, research showed consuming one hot chocolate beverage per day improves mood. Of course, the key to this is the dark chocolate used to prepare the drink, which is rich in polyphenols. The warm, comforting temperature of the drink and daily routine could play a big role, too.
Polyphenols are known to improve cognitive function. They also boost blood flow to the brain to carry important nutrients and hormones and have been linked to improved mood. Plus, the polyphenols found in hot chocolate are powerful antioxidant that fights inflammation. Brew a cup and take a few deep breaths as you enjoy the drink for the most benefit.
Asparagus is full of antioxidants that balance levels of homocysteine throughout the body. Homocysteine causes inflammation that impedes blood flow to the brain. By letting blood flow normally, it’s easier for mood-balancing hormones to pass through the blood-brain barrier. Plus, asparagus is high in tryptophan that’s critical for producing serotonin.
In addition to helping the body balance hormones, asparagus is high in levels of folate. Folate deficiency has been linked to depression and anxiety and increasing levels could relieve symptoms if that is the cause. It is also high in fiber that’s critical for digestive health and provides energy without blood sugar spikes.
The red color of red bell peppers comes from a powerful antioxidant called capsanthin. Like most antioxidants, it fights inflammation and boosts blood flow to the brain. Plus, capsanthin contains tryptophan. Tryptophan helps the body produce serotonin and increased blood flow makes it easier for serotonin to get to the brain.
The capsanthin content in red bell peppers also improves levels of the hormone melatonin. Melatonin production is critical for getting a good night’s sleep, which plays a big role in your mood the next day. Furthermore, red bell pepper has high levels of Vitamin B6. Research shows Vitamin B6 supplementation effectively treats depression.
There isn’t a lot that honey can’t do, from fighting infection to protecting the brain. Honey really helps by raising hormone levels and providing energy, so serotonin can get to the brain and your mood can be lifted. It also stops oxidation in the brain, decreases inflammation, and has brain-protecting benefits.
Like apples, honey is also a great source of energy that comes without a crash. It has natural sugars, amino acids, and tons of vitamins and minerals. The amino acids are precursors to neurotransmitters like serotonin as well. Plus, it has antibacterial, antimicrobial, anticonvulsant, and other benefits, too!
Okra is a fibrous vegetable that digests slowly, balancing blood sugar levels and preventing mood swings. It also contains high levels of folate. Folate plays a role in dopamine production. Dopamine plays a critical role in how we handle stress. Folate deficiency has also been linked to depression because of its role in the production of serotonin.
The pectin and digestive fibers found in okra also make it great for digestion. It nourishes the good bacteria in the gut and improves mental health. The pectin responsible for the slimy texture inside okra also helps eliminate waste and toxins. This helps it detoxify your body of waste, toxins, and heavy metals.
Turmeric is effective in treating the symptoms of depression because of it’s high levels of curcumin. The polyphenol curcumin is responsible for giving turmeric its yellow color. It also has strong anti-inflammaotry properties that decrease inflammation and protect the brain from issues with memory and degeneration associated with Major Depressive Disorder.
Adding turmeric to your diet can fight against free radicals from toxins in our environment and the things we eat. It promotes a healthy heart, reduces your risk of cancer, and reduces the symptoms of arthritis. Research shows that it even boosts memory abilities in people with the genetic marker for Alzheimer’s disease.
A serving of edamame boosts mental health because it contains an impressive 80% of your daily recommended intake of folic acid. Folic acid plays a big role in your body’s production of important hormones as well as providing energy. Deficiencies can result in anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders.
Edamame is also a great source of magnesium, which assists with the deveopment of the “happy hormone” serotonin. It also has high fiber content that promotes digestive health and it digests slowly. This means that it provides energy while preventing blood sugar spikes that can throw off your mood.
Banana contains plenty of amino acids, B vitamins, and tryptophan that all play a role in serotonin production. The levels of serotonin in your brain greatly affect mood and deficiencies of serotonin are related to conditions like anxiety and Major Depressive disorder. Plus, the natural sugars provide a boost of sustainable energy to increase alertness.
The B vitamins in bananas work with the tryptophan, which is a precursor to the hormone serotonin. They also provide the energy needed to move it through the blood-brain barrier so it can improve mood. As an added benefit, banana is a starchy fruit that takes longer to digest so it prevents blood sugar spikes.
When it comes to mood, avocadoes help because of their high levels of folate and Vitamin B5. Vitamin B5 plays a critical role in the function of the adrenal glands and hormone production. Folate, on the other hand, helps with the production of serotonin and dopamine that regulate mood.
Avocado also contains high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats fight inflammation, protect the cells and the brain, and even improve heart and digestive health. They even fight cancer. Omega-3 fats also have protective benefits for the brain and prevent damage caused to brain cells by mood disorders.
With the wide range of nutrients, antioxidants, and healthy fats found in walnuts, they are arguably one of the best foods for boosting mood. There was even a recent study where eating walnuts every day was linked to a better overall sense of well-being. This is no surprise with so many nutrients that help with hormone regulation.
Walnuts contain antioxidants, including polyphenols, ALA, and Vitamin E. They also contain healthy fats like avocadoes and other vitamins and minerals for a nutritional punch. Polyphenols and ALA both work to regulate hormones in the body and the antioxidant properties of walnuts fight inflammation. They also contain dietary fiber that provides energy for the body and promotes gut and digestive health.
We’ve all heard that rumor that dairy products are “bad” for you. However, it’s one of those things that has benefits when you’re choosing the right kind of dairy and cottage cheese meets that mark. Not only is it high in calcium and protein, but it also has Vitamin B12. All of these work together to boost energy.
Cottage cheese also has natural electrolytes that occur because of the selenium content. Selenium plays a big role in thyroid health. Since your thyroid plays such a big role in balancing and producing hormones, it’s critical to maintaining a healthy mood. It also stops selenium deficiency that results in depression in some people.
Chickpeas contain about one-third of an adult’s recommended daily protein intake and almost half of the recommended amount of fiber. This provides long-lasting energy and stabilizes blood sugar levels, which prevents mood swings that come along with blood sugar spikes. Plus, there is a good amount of tryptophan, the precursor to serotonin.
Chickpeas also have a healthy dose of choline. Choline plays a critical role in the nervous system and brain and how well it functions. It’s been heavily studied for its link to overall mood with finding suggesting that it helps. One study found that choline effectively treats bipolar disorder in some people.
The benefit of kefir comes down to the link between gut health and brain health. Fermented foods like kefir are one of the best things that you can eat to encourage a healthy digestive tract. Many hormones, including an estimated 90% of serotonin molecules, are made in the digestive tract.
In lab tests, it was found that consuming kefir and other fermented foods significantly improved the body’s ability to produce GABA, an important hormone that plays a big role in managing mood and the way we handle stress. Decreased levels are seen in people with depression, anxiety, and mood disorders.
Saffron has loads of antioxidants that reduce oxidative damage and protect the brain. Research also shows that saffron increases the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain without affecting other hormone levels to bring about a better sense of well-being. Dopamine also plays a big role in how well you handle stress.
The way that you react to stress and your body’s physical response does take a toll on mental health. Stress can also make mood disorders, depression, and anxiety worse. According to one study, saffron is so effective that it works as well as anti-depressants like Prozac. However, it does this without the risk of side effects.
Full of protein, dietary fiber, and healthy fats, pistachios are a great snack with a low glycemic load. This means that when you eat them, they help stabilize blood sugar as well as blood sugar spikes that affect mood. As an added benefit, unsaturated fats in pistachios lower cholesterol and encourage heart health.
Another benefit for mood is the tryptophan in pistachios. Tryptophan is synthesized by the body to produce the hormone serotonin. Pistachios are also full of B vitamins that provide the body with the energy they need to carry out tasks like synthesizing serotonin. There’s any energy boost for your brain, too.
Peanut butter is another source of tryptophan that helps regulate the hormones serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin manages mood and melatonin encourages sleep, which is important for mental health. Peanut butter is also full of potassium and magnesium that regulate fluids so hormones travel from areas like the gut and the thyroid to the brain.
Peanut butter contains natural sugars, as well as nutrients like iron, protein, fats, and fiber that give your body sustainable energy. The natural sweetness can also be used to curb carb cravings and stabilize blood sugar so you don’t have mood swings. This makes it a great choice for breakfast.
Almonds are full of polyunsaturated fats that help the body release serotonin and polyphenols that stop the brain from experiencing signs of aging, whether from old age or chronic mental illness. Polyunsaturated fats also help stabilize mood and improve digestive health, two things that help with mental health and your overall sense of well-being.
Another benefit of almonds is their high tryptophan content, which assists the body in producing serotonin. For the most benefit, you’ll want to soak and peel almonds before eating them. The brown coating on the outside of almonds contains tannins that stop the body from absorbing all those nutrients found in them, particularly the polyunsaturated fats.
One of the biggest benefits for mood when it comes to raspberries is their anthocyanin content. Anthocyanins are found in a lot of different berries and raspberries contain a high dose. These antioxidants are known for their ability to encourage the brain to release “feel-good” hormones like dopamine and serotonin.
Raspberries are also an incredible anti-inflammatory and protect the cells and brain from oxidative damage. While oxidative damage happens naturally as you age, it also worsens with mental health problems and stress. Raspberries in particular have one of the greatest antioxidant content of fruit. It’s even ten times greater than what you’d find in a tomato.
Matcha is another superfood that can boost mood because of its high antioxidant content. The antioxidants found in matcha are called catechins. Catechins fight inflammation throughout the body and improve blood flow. Better blood flow means it’s easier for the energizing effects of matcha to start working.
Matcha is energizing because it contains a small amount of caffeine and energy-boosting L-Theanine. L-Theanine encourages the brain to release serotonin, dopamine, and GABA, all of them working to boost mood. The neurotransmitter is also known for helping with stress response and relaxation, though it does contain some caffeine. This helps you relax without getting drowsy.
Wine offers some of the same benefits as kefir because it’s a fermented product full of probiotics that feed the good bacteria in the gut. It’s also full of antioxidants that fight oxidation and inflammation. Wine even offers protection from conditions like Alzheimer’s. Wine quality matters, though. Natural wine contains probiotics while most commercial wines have them filtered out.
A glass of wine is also a great way to relax and unwind at the end of the day. While excessive drinking has risks, drinking wine a few nights each week improves mood and mental health by reducing stress. Stress affects things like how we handle problems, mood stability, and our ability to get a good night’s sleep.
Like many other nuts on this list, cashews contain depression-fighting tryptophan that helps boost mood stability and serotonin production. Their high level of magnesium also supports thyroid health. Plus, cashews have lots of B vitamins that boost metabolism and provide energy to send mood-stabilizing hormones where they need to go.
Research shows that just a handful or two of cashews is more than enough tryptophan to help stabilize mood, as well as people with anxiety and depression. Some other benefits include improved cholesterol, heart health, and blood sugar levels because of the healthy fats. Cashews also contain fiber that supports digestive health.
Figs are a powerhouse of nutrients and also contain pectin, which absorbs cholesterol from the bloodstream and removes it from the body as waste. Veins are wider with cholesterol out of the way, which keeps blood flowing and makes it easier for your body to get nutrients and mood-boosting hormones where they need to go.
Figs also contain tryptophan, which helps with hormone production and benefits sleep. Sleep is critical to positive mood and mental health because it’s important for the body feeling rested enough to carry out tasks on a cellular level. Figs also have high fiber content that prevents mood swings associated with fluctuating blood sugar levels.
Watermelon is incredibly hydrating, being made up of 92% water. In addition to water, this fruit contains electrolytes including potassium and magnesium. As electrolytes balance fluid levels in the body, it’s easier for nutrients and important mood-balancing hormones to be moved around as they should.
Despite being low in calories, watermelon is also full of Vitamin A and important amino acids that affect hormone production. It also contains fiber to encourage digestive health, natural sugars for a boost of energy, and amino acids tha help wih the production of hormones. Watermelon also contains Vitamin B6, which helps boost mood in individuals with deficiencies.
One of the biological causes of depression is the presence of certain inflammatory compounds in the brain. Researchers are not yet sure what causes this inflammation, however, it is known the antioxidant lycopene found in tomatoes reduces these compounds. Lycopene is responsible for giving tomatoes their red color.
Tomatoes also promote a healthy gut microbiome and digestive tract because of their fiber content. They also contain vitamins and minerals that support the production of happy hormones, including iron, folate, Vitamin B6, and magensium. Their natural sugars and B vitamins are also great for an energy boost.
Tropical fruits like guava are typically associated with being good for immunity because of their high Vitamin C content. However, these antioxidants also work to fight inflammation through the body. Guava also contains plenty of B vitamins that give the cells energy to do what they need to do, including regulating your mood.
Eating guava also gives you a dose of many different micronutrients that play a big role in how the body produces hormones that regulate mood. Guava also contains magnesium that supports the thyroid for hormone health. It also has lots of fiber for digestive and gut health.
Beetroot is full of powerful pigments that work to detoxify the body. The buildup of certain toxins and heavy metals happens naturally over time from exposure to things in the food we eat and our environment. Many of these cause problems like poor mood, anxiety, depression, and mood disorders.
Beetroot is also high in fiber to help move those toxins along the digestive tract. In addition to getting rid of bad toxins that cause problems with mood, beetroot is high in betaine. Betaine regulates hormones in the body and is involved in the synthesis of serotonin. By raising serotonin levels, mood naturally improves.
As we’ve learned already, there are a lot of micronutrient deficiencies that cause mood imbalance and worsen symptoms of anxiety, depression, and mood disorders. Swiss chard is full of vitamins, minerals, and various micronutrients that the body needs to keep functioning as it should. This makes it a great added vegetable for a big nutritional punch.
In addition to helping prevent vitamin deficiencies, swiss chard also contains selenium, B-vitamins, and other nutrients important to hormone synthesis. It has a high fiber content that supports gut health and the selenium is beneficial to thyroid health. Plus, Swiss chard is rich in B vitamins that provide energy.
Keeping a steady energy level through the day plays a big role in mood, especially since blood sugar spikes also cause highs and lows. Raisins contain 29 grams of natural sugar in a single cup, making them a great choice for a pick-me-up. Plus, they are full of fiber that digests slowly and helps sustain, all while promoting digestive tract health.
Raisins are also full of nutrients like iron and calcium, minerals like magnesium and selenium, and powerful antioxidants that fight inflammation. Iron and calcium support healthy red blood cells while antioxidants improve bloodflow. Magnesium and selenium have been closely linked to mood because of their influence on the thyroid as well.
Apricots contain lycopene like tomatoes. Lycopene reduces reduces levels of inflammatory markers found in the brain that have been linked to depression. They also benefit mood because of their tryptophan content, which the body synthesizes into serotonin. Furthermore, the antioxidant powers fight inflammation to improve bloodflow and move serotonin where it needs to go.
Apricot is also full of digestive fiber that keeps your gut healthy. It’s high content of B vitamins and natural sugars make apricots a great mid-day snack to boost your mood naturally. Plus, the iron found in apricots is critical in the production of red blood cells and preventing anemia, which can result in mental symptoms like worsened anxiety and depression.