8 foods that can help boost happiness

8 foods that can help boost happiness
Written by ckv6u

Biting into a piece of dark chocolate or eating a bowl of your favorite food might bring a temporary smile to your face, but experts say there’s a way to extend those fleeting feelings of joy.

“There is a food-mood connection,” says nutritional psychiatrist Dr. Uma Naidoo, director of nutritional and metabolic psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and author of This Is Your Brain on Food. “Any changes you make in your diet won’t [boost happiness] overnight, but they will have an impact over time.”

Want happiness that lasts long after your next meal? These eight foods can help.

1. Turmeric

Add turmeric to soups, stews, and smoothies. Curcumin, the active ingredient that gives turmeric its yellow color, has been shown to have antidepressant effects.

For the biggest impact, Naidoo suggests using one-quarter teaspoon of turmeric daily and adding a pinch of black pepper, saying, “Black pepper makes the curcumin 2,000% more bioavailable.”

2. Kombucha

The fermented tea could quench your thirst and improve your mood. Kombucha is packed with probiotics, and the live microorganisms appear to have antidepressant effects. Other fermented foods, including tempeh, miso, kimchi, and sauerkraut, could have similar impacts on mood, according to Dr. Drew Ramsey, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University and author of Eat to Beat Depression and Anxiety.

“Eating fermented foods leads to a more diverse set of bacteria in the gut, [and] that tends to calm down our overactive immune systems,” he adds. “Fermented foods are one of the food categories that can have a big impact on mental health.”

3. Cinnamon

A little cinnamon has big benefits on mood because it’s loaded with antioxidants, combats inflammation, and protects against neurodegenerative diseases like dementia, notes Naidoo. It also appears to have a positive effect on mood, so go ahead and sprinkle the flavorful spice on toast or add it to coffee for a pinch of happiness.


A diet high in omega-3 fatty acids has been linked to lower risk of depression. The happiness superfood is also high in vitamin B12, a vitamin that is associated with positive mood—and might even help ward off depression or improve the impact of antidepressants.

5. Leafy greens

Stock up at the salad bar. Collard greens, spinach, kale, cabbage, and other leafy greens contain high levels of magnesium, a nutrient that can serotonin boost, the so-called happiness hormone. Leafy greens also contain a lot of fiber.

“Fiber feeds the microbiome,” says Ramsey. “How clearly you think [and] how anxious you feel…are dictated by the diversity of organisms that live in your gut.”

6. Yogurt

There appears to be a link between depression and the amount of lactobacillus in the gut. Eating yogurt reintroduces the powerful probiotic and could actually reverse the symptoms of depression.

“Probiotics can be very powerful when it comes to improving mood even when compared to [antidepressant] medications,” says Naidoo.

Following a vegan diet? Many plant-based yogurts also contain probiotics.

7. Vegetables

The fewer beans, peas, and lentils in your diet, the higher the risk of depression. The benefits of adding vegetables to your diet appear to come from high levels of magnesium, tryptophan, fiber, folate, and omega-3 fatty acids that are connected with improved mood.

8. Almonds

Grab a handful of almonds as a snack or add them to salads, yogurt, or oatmeal. Regular consumption of the nutrient-rich snack food has been linked to lower rates of depression and improved mood. Ramsey credits the healthy fats in almonds and other nuts for the mood-boosting benefits.

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