7 Serotonin Boosting Foods to Help Your Mood

These foods could help you feel balanced and calm.

Start your morning with foods that contain tryptophan.

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You have probably heard of serotonin, also known as the happy hormone, because it helps to regulate mood and is a big part of mental wellbeing. That’s why it’s important to make sure that your body produces enough of this hormone and what you eat is a big part of it, stresses Psych Central.

What may surprise you is that serotonin is actually produced in your gut and not your brain and is synthesized from the amino acid tryptophan. That’s the same amino acid found in turkey that makes you sleepy after your Thanksgiving meal and why foods rich in it can help you relax and feel balanced. 

Low levels of serotonin may cause mood disorders, anxiety, insomnia, and contribute to other mental health issues. Eating foods that contain tryptophan and healthy nutrients can help boost your body’s production of this mood stabilizing hormone, according to Healthline. But eating foods high in tryptophan won’t boost your serotonin unless you mix them with carbs like oatmeal, rice, and whole grains.

While most of these high tryptophan foods come from animals, there are some excellent vegetarian and vegan options. Try some of these serotonin boosting foods to feel your best. 

Dairy Foods

Foods like cow’s milk, cheese, and yogurt are rich in the protein lactalbumin which helps to increase tryptophan levels, according to Psych Central, and this in turn increases serotonin levels that can improve your sleep quality and mood. This is why so many people who have difficulty falling asleep drink a cup of warm milk before bed.

Milk, yogurt and cheese all contain tryptophan.

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Fermented Foods

Fermented foods like kimchi, miso, and sauerkraut, help to boost your serotonin by nourishing your gut microbiome. “Serotonin is produced in the GI tract,”  Jan Walker, a clinical nutrition specialist at Children’s Hospital Colorado told National Geographic. “And those cells, if they’re bathed in the correct nutrients, will help produce better levels of serotonin.” And that can mean a better mood.

Fermented food can boost your serotonin levels.

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Tofu and other foods made from soy are excellent sources of tryptophan. According to Healthline, foods made of soybeans are also a good choice for vegans and vegetarians because it is a whole source of plant-based protein. In fact, it contains more protein than meat.

Fresh tofu and other soy foods is a good choice for vegans.

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Turkey is a large source of tryptophan, but contrary to popular belief, it is not the largest, stressed WebMD. The white meat contains 410  milligrams of the amino acid per pound and dark meat, 303. Chicken and other poultry are also good sources of tryptophan. Making a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread is an easy way to get all you need.

Turkey contains a healthy dose of tryptophan.

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Eggs can significantly boost your tryptophan levels but you must include the yolks, stressed Healthline. Egg yolks are also rich in tyrosine, choline, biotin, and Omega-3 fatty acids. A 2015 study linked egg consumption with enhanced serotonin levels and mood in middle-aged women. You can make eggs healthier by boiling or poaching instead of frying.


Eating eggs can help boost your serotonin.

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Besides containing tryptophan, this oily fish is also a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D, which are important for heart health, according to Healthline. In fact, salmon is so good for you, it is considered a superfood. There are a myriad of ways to use salmon in healthy meals.

Eating salmon and rice together can help improve your mood.

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Nuts and Seeds

According to Psych Central, all nuts and seeds contain tryptophan and are a good source of fiber, vitamins and antioxidants. In fact eating just a handful of walnuts a day has been linked to a lower risk of depression. What you eat definitely affects how you feel, so make sure to include healthy seeds and nuts in your diet.

Nuts and seeds are good for gut health.

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