Good Mood Foods 20 Foods to Help Boost Your Mental Health

Good Mood Foods: 20 Foods to Help Boost Your Mental Health

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Updated on February 4, 2024

Reviewed by Noha Basiony

Mental health is an integral part of our overall well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and behave. Almost every single human goes through at least one mental health struggle at one point or another during their lifetime. Therefore, it is important to arm ourselves with the needed knowledge and awareness that would enable us to maintain our mental health and survive those struggles. 

While there are many methods and paths to take, including medication and therapy, diet can also play a vital role in improving mental health. What we eat can affect our mood, energy levels, and overall cognitive function. That’s not all; certain foods even have compounds that can help us fight certain mental disorders such as anxiety and depression. 

The following 20 ‘good mood’ foods and ingredients have all been linked and proven to help improve the overall mental health status and mood of those consuming them regularly.

So if you’re looking for a boost in mental health, consider adding some of these foods to your diet.

1. Fatty Fish 

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If you’re looking for foods to boost your mental health, you might want to consider adding some fatty fish to your diet. Fatty fish such as albacore tuna and salmon are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to a number of mental health benefits. For example, omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce inflammation and improve brain function. They can also help to protect against conditions like depression and Alzheimer’s disease. 

What’s more, fatty fish are a good mood food. Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids can improve symptoms of depression and anxiety. So, if you’re looking for foods that can improve your mental health, be sure to add some fatty fish to your diet.

2. Dark Chocolate 

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When it comes to foods that boost your mental health, dark chocolate is often at the top of the list. This is because dark chocolate contains a number of compounds that have been shown to be beneficial for mental health. For example, dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which are known to improve cognitive function and protect against age-related cognitive decline. 

Additionally, dark chocolate also contains caffeine, which can help to increase alertness and improve focus. Finally, dark chocolate also contains theobromine, a compound that has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. So if you’re looking for a good mood food, dark chocolate is a great option.

3. Walnuts 

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Walnuts are a frequently overlooked superfood that offers myriad benefits for your mental health. Packed with nutrients like Vitamin E, Omega-3 fatty acids, and magnesium, walnuts are one of nature’s most effective foods for boosting your mood and safeguarding your mental health. 

In fact, studies have shown that walnuts can help to improve cognitive function, relieve stress, and even fight depression. So if you’re looking for a natural way to boost your mood and improve your mental health, reach for a handful of walnuts the next time you need a snack.

4. Almonds

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Walnuts are the only nuts that help boost mental health quality; almonds are also a great option. These little nuts are packed with nutrients that can help to improve your mood and cognitive function. For example, almonds are a good source of vitamin E, which is an antioxidant that helps to protect brain cells from damage. 

Furthermore, Almonds contain a compound named phenylalanine, which has been proven to help the brain produce dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps boost your mood. They also contain magnesium, a mineral that has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety levels. In addition, almonds are a good source of healthy fats, which are essential for brain health. So, if you’re looking for a good mood food, reach for a handful of almonds.

5. Avocados

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Avocados are rich in healthy fats and nutrients, making them an excellent choice for those looking to boost their mental health. For instance, avocados are a good source of vitamin B6, which is essential for the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in mood regulation. 

Avocados are also high in folate, a nutrient that has been shown to reduce the risk of depression. In addition, the healthy fats in avocados help to keep your brain functioning optimally. So, if you’re looking for a mood-boosting food, be sure to add avocados to your grocery list.

6. Spinach

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Spinach is a leafy green vegetable that is packed with nutrients. It is exceptionally high in iron, calcium, and vitamins A and C. Spinach also contains magnesium, which is a mineral that has been linked with improved mental health. Magnesium helps to regulate neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that play a role in mood and emotion. Low levels of magnesium have been linked with depression and anxiety. For this reason, spinach is often considered a good mood food. 

In addition to its mood-boosting benefits, spinach is also a great source of energy. It contains thylakoids, which are compounds that help to regulate metabolism. Spinach is also high in fibre, which helps to keep you feeling full and satisfied after meals. For these reasons, spinach is an excellent food to add to your diet if you are looking for foods that improve mental health and promote a sense of well-being.

7. Berries 

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Berries such as blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries are among the best foods you can eat to boost your mental health. They are rich in antioxidants and other nutrients that promote a healthy nervous system. 

Studies have shown that berries can help improve memory and cognitive function. They can also reduce inflammation and protect the brain from damage caused by stress. In addition, berries are a good source of fibre, which is essential for a healthy digestive system. Fibre helps to promote regularity and prevents constipation, which can lead to feelings of irritability. So, if you’re looking for foods that can help you feel better mentally and physically, make sure to include berries in your diet.

8. Tomatoes

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Tomatoes are one of the most popular foods in the world and are also one of the most nutritious. Tomatoes are a good source of vitamins C and E, as well as lycopene, a powerful phytonutrient. Lycopene has been linked to a variety of health benefits, among which is delaying the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease. That’s not all; lycopene has also been shown to help improve attention, logical thinking, concentration, and memory capacity. 

Tomatoes are also a good source of fibre, which can help to regulate digestion and prevent constipation. Additionally, tomatoes contain lots of folic acid and alpha-lipoic acid, which are both excellent aids in fighting depression. With all these nutrients, it’s no wonder that tomatoes are often referred to as a “superfood.”

9. Beans

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When it comes to a good-mood diet, beans should be at the top of your ingredients. Beans are packed with nutrients that are essential for good mental health, including folate, iron, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids. Studies have shown that foods rich in these nutrients can help to improve mood, reduce anxiety and depression, and promote cognitive health. 

Beans are also a good source of protein, which is essential for maintaining a healthy brain. In addition to being good for your mental health, beans are also a low-calorie food that can help you control your weight, which eventually helps in managing several eating disorders. So if you’re looking for a good mood food that’s also good for your physical health, beans are a perfect choice.

10. Seeds

Seeds are often overlooked as a source of nutrition, but they are actually a powerhouse of nutrients. They are a good source of protein, fibre, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. 

Seeds also contain phytochemicals that have been shown to have health-promoting properties. For example, pumpkin seeds contain substances that can help to improve mood and cognitive function. Chia seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to improved mental health. And flaxseeds contain lignans, which can act as antioxidants and protect against some chronic diseases. 

Whether you add them to your breakfast cereal or snack on them throughout the day, seeds are a delicious way to boost your nutrient intake and overall health.

11. Whole Grains

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Whole grains are an important part of a healthy diet and have been linked to a variety of health benefits. Whole grains are a good source of fibre, which can help to regulate digestion and prevent constipation. In addition, whole grains contain essential vitamins and minerals, including iron, folate, and magnesium. Studies have shown that whole grain consumption is associated with lower rates of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. 

In addition to their many health benefits, whole grains can also boost your mental health. Foods high in whole grains have been linked to lower rates of depression and anxiety. So if you’re looking for foods to boost your mood, be sure to include whole grains in your diet.

12. Mushrooms 

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Mushrooms are a good source of several nutrients that are important for mental health, including vitamin D, selenium, and copper. Vitamin D is involved in brain development and has been linked to lower rates of depression and anxiety. Selenium is an antioxidant that helps protect the brain from damage caused by inflammation. Copper is essential for the proper function of neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that transmit signals between neurons in the brain.

In addition to their nutrient content, mushrooms also contain compounds that have a positive effect on brain health. For example, ergothioneine is an antioxidant that has been shown to improve cognitive function in older adults. Another compound found in mushrooms, herceptin, has been shown to increase levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a crucial role in mood stability.

13. Yoghurt

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When it comes to foods that boost your mental health, yoghurt is one of the good-mood foods you should consider incorporating into your diet. A cup of yoghurt a day has been found to improve memory and cognitive function. 

The nutrients in yoghurt help to protect the brain from age-related decline. Yoghurt is also rich in probiotics, which have been shown to reduce anxiety and depression. So, if you’re looking for food that can improve your mental health, yoghurt is an ideal choice.

14. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

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Extra virgin olive oil is more than just a healthy cooking oil – it’s also a mood-boosting powerhouse. Numerous studies have shown that foods rich in healthy fats, like olive oil, can help to improve mental health. One study even found that people who ate a Mediterranean diet, which is high in healthy fats like olive oil, were 30% less likely to suffer from depression. 

The reason why healthy fats are so good for your mood is that they help to support cell function and protect your brain cells. In addition, healthy fats help to promote blood flow and reduce inflammation. So, if you’re looking for a good mood ingredient to incorporate into your diet, extra virgin olive oil should definitely be at the top of your list.

15. Apples 

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Apples are one of the most popular fruits in the world and for a good reason. Not only are they delicious, but they also offer numerous health benefits. Apples are a good source of fibre, which can help to regulate digestion and prevent constipation. They are also a good source of vitamins A and C, which are essential for maintaining healthy skin and eyesight. In addition, apples contain antioxidants that can help to protect cells from damage. 

However, apples aren’t just good for your physical health; they can also boost your mental health. Research has shown that eating apples can improve mood, cognitive function, and mental well-being. So next time you’re feeling down, reach for an apple instead of a candy bar. You’ll be doing your body and mind a favour.

16. Bananas

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Bananas are often referred to as a “good mood food” due to their high levels of tryptophan, which is converted into serotonin – the happy hormone. But that’s not all bananas can do for your mental health. They’re also packed with vitamin B6, which can help to reduce anxiety and stress levels.

Furthermore, bananas contain high levels of potassium, which has been shown to improve cognitive function, so if you’re looking for a natural way to boost your mood and mental performance, reach for a banana.

17. Eggs 

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Eggs are one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, and they contain a wide range of vitamins and minerals that are essential for good health. 

In addition to being an excellent source of protein, eggs also contain nutrients that can boost your mood and mental health. For example, eggs are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to improve cognitive function. In addition, eggs contain vitamin D, which is associated with a lower risk of depression. 

Furthermore, the choline in eggs is essential for memory and brain development. Another vital compound found in eggs is tryptophan, which is responsible for boosting serotonin production. So, if you’re looking for foods that can improve your mental health, try having eggs for breakfast every day.

18. Lentils 

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Lentils are a good source of folate, a water-soluble vitamin necessary for the production of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate mood and plays a vital role in maintaining stable mental health. 

In addition, lentils are also high in fibre, which can help improve digestion and gut health, as well as promote feelings of fullness. As a result, including lentils in your diet may help to boost your mood and improve your overall health.

19. Sweet Potatoes

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While many foods can help you maintain and improve your mental health, sweet potatoes are an excellent choice. Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, potassium, and iron. They also contain high levels of fibre, which can help to regulate digestion and promote a feeling of fullness. 

Furthermore, sweet potatoes are a good source of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that has been linked to improved cognitive function. In addition to being a healthy food, sweet potatoes are also delicious and versatile. They can be roasted, mashed, or turned into chips, making them a perfect snack or side dish. So, if you’re looking for mood-boosting foods, be sure to add sweet potatoes to your grocery list.

20. Cheese

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Cheese is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for brain health. As mentioned above, omega-3s can help to improve mood, reduce anxiety, and even improve cognitive function. 

In addition to being a good source of omega-3s, cheese is also packed with vitamins and minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin B12. These nutrients are all essential for proper brain function. Vitamin B12, in particular, has been linked to increased energy levels and improved mood. So, if you’re looking for a mental health boost, make sure to include cheese in your diet.

If you’re looking for mood-boosting foods to improve your mental health, give some of these a try. From berries and dark chocolate to fatty fish and avocados, there’s something on this list for every taste appetite. And if you know of any other good mood foods that we didn’t mention, please share them with us in the comments so we can give them a go too. 

Bon appetit!

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