8 Foods That Can Make You Happier

May 05, 2017

Yes, there are lots of simple things we can do to elevate mood like getting enough sleep, mindfulness meditation, laughing, and volunteering. And believe it or not, science shows you can also eat your way happier! Here are 6 foods that could help improve your outlook.

Mindfulness meditation, adequate sleep, laughing, volunteering, and spending time with pets (as well as with happy people) all help in elevating mood and boosting contentment. And believe it or not, science shows you can also eat your way happier!

If you’re in need of a little more glee, here are 6 research-backed “better mood foods” to build into your eating repertoire.



Here’s a great reason to chow down at the clambake: Clams are packed with vitamin B12; low levels of that vitamin can lead to depression, as the brain needs B12 to make dopamine and serotonin. Depressed people who had low levels of B12 (and were taking antidepressants) felt much better 3 months after adding a B12 supplement.

Bonus: even canned clams, including those in chowder, offer a B12 boost. If you can't have clams every day, you can get the vitamin from other seafood, including trout and salmon, as well as beef, chicken, dairy products, and fortified cereals.


Walnuts & Flax

Nuts and seeds, especially these two, are loaded with alpha-linolenic acid. Studies say those who had the most ALA in their diets were less likely to be depressed.

Here’s how it works: When your blood levels of ALA are low, so are you; low ALA levels fan the flames of inflammation, which has been linked to depression. What's more, low ALA also decreases levels of the brain chemicals dopamine, which is responsible for feelings of joy, and serotonin, which inhibits anger and aggression.



According to research, women who drank 2 to 3 cups of caffeinated coffee a day were about 15% less likely to become depressed; those who drank four or more cups were at 20% lower risk. We can probably thank caffeine for the happy boost—a psychoactive drug that works sort of like a harmless crack cocaine, increasing dopamine and serotonin transmission within just 30 minutes.



No matter which you find in the farmer’s market or on produce shelves, radishes’ spicy crunch may lift your mood by stimulating the release of dopamine and norepinephrine.



These succulent bivalves are one of nature’s richest sources of zinc. In a 2013 randomized clinical trial involving 44 people with depression, those who were given a 25 mg zinc supplement along with an antidepressant enjoyed improved moods over the 12-week study period, more so than those just given an antidepressant. Low zinc levels are also linked to anxiety. Three ounces of fresh oysters (about 8 medium) contains a substantial 52 mg dose of zinc; a 3-ounce can contains 77 mg.



The juice of this seed-packed fruit lowered blood pressure, anxiety, and depression in study participants who drank a glass of it every day for 2 weeks.



Here’s another great reason to indulge in rich, dark chocolate (the darker, the better): It’s loaded with chemicals, such as polyphenols, that might boost your mood (one polyphenol actually mimics marijuana’s mood-boosting effects.).



These summery treats also are packed with vitamin B6, which a 2010 study says reduces depression in people 65 and older.

And that’s not all: These bright yellow beauties contain the antioxidants beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, higher levels of which are linked to higher moods.

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