Mood Enhancing Foods List


Do you want to boost your mood? Feel healthier in mind and body? Of course! Mood, after all, is an important feeling or state of mind. There are many types of moods familiar to everyone: love or affection, fear, grief, anger, anxiety, surprise, trust, self-assuredness, and happiness. Every human being likely feels all of these at some time. However, as the 14th Dali Lama said regarding one of the primary moods, “Happiness is not something readymade. It comes from your own actions.”

Interestingly, the food we eat has a vital role in one’s physical health and as well as one’s mood. The vitamins and nutrients that are consumed have an impact on brain function, how one feels, his/her energy level, proper sleep, and positive social engagement. So, for better mind and body function, it is time to dig into this mood enhancing foods list.

Factors Affecting Moods

A positive or negative mood can be caused by many factors including the amount and quality of sleep, exercise (or lack of it,) weather, social activities or involvement, stress, illness or health challenges, age, gender, and of course, nutrition.

The Ways Food Affects Mental Health

Foods can have a negative influence on people. Here are several ways:

  • Long-term unhealthy eating practices lead to a risk of depression.
  • Addictive eating, and thus excess weight or obesity problems, are all tied to too much consumption of sugar.
  • Stress also causes one’s body to seek sugar for a quick injection of energy. So, overcoming stress will help with sugar use. Exercise is a great stress reducer.
  • A poor diet leads to mental health problems. Mindful eating leads to better mental health.

It is good to know that there are foods that improve mood happiness and overall health. And, and there are eating patterns to avoid and foods that impact your moods negatively as well as contributing to poor health.

Guidelines for Good Mental Health

Here are some guidelines for good eating habits that will help you to improve your mood, help you think more clearly, and provide more energy.

  1. Start each day with a balanced breakfast.
  2. Eat regularly and don’t skip meals. That will help keep sugar levels steady and provide better energy throughout the day.
  3. Don’t eliminate carbs but do choose “smart” ones.
  4. Consume more omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.
  5. Exercise regularly.
  6. Get enough vitamin D.
  7. Choose selenium-rich foods.
  8. Don’t overuse caffeine.
  9. Get plenty of fluid—stay hydrated.
  10. Get enough protein.

Top 10 Foods for Mental Health

Here is an excellent mood enhancing foods list:

  1. Fatty fish, like salmon, trout, and albacore tuna. These have beneficially high quantities of omega-3 fatty acids which are highly anti-inflammatory and help to ward off depression.
  1. Berries including blueberries, raspberries and strawberries, and whole fruits like apples, bananas, and oranges—all are high in vitamin C which helps combat stress. Citrus and bananas also are packed with B vitamins that can boost one’s mood.
  1. Dark chocolate…no kidding! Dark chocolate is filled with compounds that increase blood flow to the brain, reduce inflammation, and generally (along with great taste, texture, and smell) can brighten one’s mood.
  1. Both mood-boosting and providing healthful quantities of magnesium, protein, fiber, and vitamin E, nuts are both fun and tasty. Almonds are especially great snack food items.
  1. Seeds like chia and sunflower seeds are packed with multiple vitamins and are a great choice for anyone with nut allergies.
  1. Dark leafy greens like spinach and swiss chard. These are richly filled with nutrients, B vitamins (to boost brain function,) iron, and fiber to balance blood sugar. Swiss chard also has healthy levels of magnesium to boost energy and push-off depression.
  1. Fermented foods (really) including kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut, and dairy-free yogurt are a wonderful source of probiotics. Great for mood-boosting and they support immunity as well by increasing the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. Other fermented foods including beer, some breads, and wine don’t provide probiotics due to their cooking and filtering processes
  1. Black beans, lentils, and lima beans may be small, but they are rich in magnesium and they can function to provide calm and relaxation. They also provide rich quantities of fiber to aid in digestion, blood sugar control, iron, and protein.
  1. Not just for traditional Mexican restaurant dishes, avocados are great for in-home use. They offer a nutritious fat with abundant vitamin B6, fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin E. (And, they happen to be creamy and delicious.)
  1. Sweet potatoes. This may be an unexpected member of the top 10 foods for mental health list, but sweet potatoes do offer mood-boosting vitamin B6 and other B vitamins along with great quantities of fiber and vitamin C. Plus, there are many ways to eat them—in salads, in stews and soups, served baked, steamed or roasted, made into chips for snacks, and more.


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Of course, there are many more mood-boosting healthy foods just begging to added to everyone’s eating routine. Eggs are a common one and shouldn’t be overlooked at all due to their broad availability and simplicity. Eggs are high in protein, vitamin D and B12 and support the nervous system as well as providing antioxidants. Consider bell peppers. They are beautiful and are high in vitamin C. Yellow peppers have the most vitamin C, followed by red and green peppers. Crunchy and great for snacking and on-the-go eating. How about blue potatoes? These beauties are loaded with iodine which helps in thyroid regulation and has plenty of antioxidants as well. It is easy to get the great benefits of vegetables like asparagus and cherry tomatoes. Both are full of great nutrients. Last, in this “bonus list” are oats and whole grains. They aren’t just for breakfast either. Whole grains are great sources of B vitamins, vital for a healthy brain. Among these, consider brown rice, wild rice, and quinoa, as well as steel-cut oatmeal.    

Battle the Negative Moods

Negative moods can also have implications for physical and mental well-being including the effects of anxiety, depression, aggression, poor self-esteem, physiological stress, and withdrawal behaviors. (Serious mood disorders are those that need to be addressed with competent medical assistance, not just motivational speeches and good eating habits.)

For most people facing the normal challenges of living and day-to-day mood swings, it is important to eat right and minimize or avoid foods that affect your moods negatively such as:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Sugar
  • Breads
  • Pasta
  • Potatoes
  • White rice

Also, many food additives can affect moods, so check the ingredient labels carefully:

  • Food colorings. For example, yellow No. 5 may cause hyperactivity.
  • Artificial sweeteners.
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG), added for its savory properties and often found in canned foods, meats, crackers, and frozen meals.
  • Caffeine, perhaps surprisingly, is often added to energy bars, gums, and waters, so look carefully before you buy. 

Other foods to avoid that may contribute to bad moods include:

  • Agave nectar, produced primarily from fructose–the most damaging form of sugar which is metabolized in the liver instead of the bloodstream.
  • Margarine and other “butter-like” substances because they compete with and block-out healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Choose real butter instead.
  • Cocktail mixers because they are simply packed with sugar.
  • Be careful with processed deli meats, which are often filled with fillers, preservatives, sugar, and salt. All are contributors to migraines, bloating, and mood swings. 

Closing Thoughts

It is smart to eat wisely. Pick from the mood enhancing foods list and work to be healthy. As Martha Washington said, “I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I find myself in.”


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www.intermountainhealthcare.org/blogs/topics/live-well/2016/04/7-ways-to-boost-your-mood-with food/#:~:text=7%20Ways%20to%20Boost%20Your%20Mood%20With%20Food,6%20Hydrate%2C%20hydrate%2C%20hydrate%21%207%20Skip%20the%20trans-fat                              




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