The Best Foods to Boost Your Mood

Good food can boost your mood. Research shows good moods make us more productive, optimistic and friendly. Global research suggests we can boost our moods naturally with real food.

What Real Foods Do the Trick?

Let’s start here in the West and then journey across the globe to find some ancient Eastern secrets.

In the Western world, three factors fuel smiles.

1. Hydrate Well

While not a food per se, water is the most essential nutrient for life and happiness. Drinking plenty of water stimulates circulation to carry nutrients to the brain and remove toxins from the blood. Being slightly dehydrated not only limits fitness performance, but is often associated with headaches too.

After some water, try small meals every few hours.

2. Stabilize Your Blood Sugar

Consuming small meals throughout the day keeps the brain happy. Unless you’re following a low carb diet, the brain will use sugar as its primary fuel source. Fluctuations in blood sugar from prolonged periods of time without food may predispose a person to bouts of irritability, mental fatigue, anxiety and depression.

(For more on how to lose weight safely and effectively with a low carb approach, click here).

So try small snacks, like healthy nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts and brazil nuts) to keep your blood sugar more stable throughout the day.

Once you’ve hydrated well and got your blood sugar under control, try some L-tryptophan and Omega-3 sources.

3. Consume Sources of L-tryptophan and Omega-3s

MIT research shows that neurotransmitters (brain signals) benefit from certain amino acids (protein builders), including L-trytophan.  Eating food sources with L-tryptophan support a happy brain.

Good sources of L-tryptophan include sesame seeds, egg whites, raw soybeans, and spirulina.

Like L-tryptophan, Omega-3s also work as mood boosters. There are three types of Omega-3s:

ALA (alpha-linolenic acid)

EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)

DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). 

We can get ALA from walnuts and vegetable oils like canola, extra virgin olive and flaxeed. And, we can get EPA and DHA, typically known as fish oils, from salmon, halibut, swordfish and flounder.  Omega-3 supplements work too.

(To see tested and true Omega-3 supplements at the best value, click here).

That sums up the Western view, now let’s travel overseas to the East.

According to Eastern Medicine, mental depression is experienced in the mind, but usually rooted in a “stagnant liver”.  Therefore Eastern food therapy seeks to boost our moods by harmonizing, stimulating, detoxifying and rejuvenating the liver.

Let’s begin with some harmony.

4. Try Eastern Mood Boosters

#1 – A little honey helps harmonize the liver. Mixing it with apple cider vinegar is even better for mood boosting.

Next, let’s get spicy.

#2 – Various spices like cumin, fennel, dill, ginger, black pepper, horseradish, rosemary, mint, and lemon balm support positive moods by stimulating the liver.

#3 – Perhaps the easiest way to support mood boosting is with a super salad, one with all the good stuff.  Eastern medicine says we can rejuvenate the liver for better moods with kale, watercress and collard greens.  We can also detoxify it with celery, lettuce, cucumber and mushrooms.

Put them all together in one super salad and you’ve got a mood-boosting meal that makes everyone happy. Yum.

OK, we’ve reached the end. It’s time to wrap it up!


To boost our moods, we can benefit from both Western and Eastern strategies.

  1. Hydrate Well – Drinking sufficient water supports a happy brain and body.
  2. Stabilize Your Blood Sugar – Consuming small meals throughout the day may keep irritability, mood swings, and depression at bay.
  3. Consume Sources of L-tryptophan and Omega-3s – Both support positive moods. L-tryptophan sources include sesame seeds, egg whites, raw soybeans, and spirulina. Omega-3s are found in fish and healthy nuts and seeds such as walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds and flax seeds.
  4. Try Eastern Mood Boosters – Eastern medicine finds honey to be a harmonizer of the liver, which supports good moods, especially with apple cider vinegar. Stimulating spices like cumin, fennel, dill, ginger, and black pepper stimulate the liver for happy effects. To detoxify the liver for a better mood, go with cucumbers, celery, lettuce and mushrooms. To rejuvenate it, try kale, watercress and collard greens.

Related Articles:

3 Foods to Power Up Your Performance & Immunity

13 Healing Foods Scientifically Proven to Support Longevity

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About Dave Barnas, M.S., CES, NASM-CPT

Dave is the true health guy. He is the founder and owner of True Health Unlimited, LLC, a personal health and fitness company in Tolland, CT & Wellness Writers, a subscription wellness newsletter service that incorporates live & virtual wellness workshops for companies across New England. Dave earned both a Bachelor's (1998) and Master's Degree (2000) in Nutritional Science from the University of Connecticut, and also holds certifications as a National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Personal Trainer, National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist, Aerobics and Fitness Association of America Group Instructor, and Nutrition Specialist. He's also the lead author for four published works. Dave has over 20 years of combined experience in nutrition counseling, dietary supplement advising, personal training, corrective exercise training, health coaching and public speaking. In addition, he's spent over 25 years studying spirituality, meditation, and personal growth strategies. Dave's clients are all ages: youth, college championship level athletes, folks in their retired years, and everywhere in between. He's worked with three of the nation's leading physicians as a dietary supplement advisor and been a guest lecturer at Harvard University, Yale University, UConn, St. Joseph College and various church groups, health clubs, and high schools. In 2013, he was invited to Whole Foods Market to share his Real Food Therapy Guide. And in 2015, Dave's funny "Snowga" (yoga in the snow) video caught the attention of The National Weather Channel, who aired it to shake off cabin fever and bring laughter. In 2016, Dave & Hollie (his wife) founded Wellness Writers and deliver evidence-based Wellness E-newsletters to spread a message of health and happiness to various businesses throughout the US. Dave currently serves as a personal trainer in Tolland as well as a wellness coach and writer for several businesses, gyms and wellness facilities throughout the US.

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