Top 5 Foods To Boost Your Mood

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Food stylist: Jamie Kimm Prop Stylist: Marina Malchin

Photo by: Antonis Achilleos

Antonis Achilleos

Feeling a little down in the dumps? While it may not be able to cure all that ails you, what you eat can certainly affect how you feel. Make these 5 feel-good foods part of your regular routine.


Who doesn’t love cozying up with a steamy bowl of pasta? Why is pasta salad always the first thing to go at a cookout? Eating healthy carbs like pasta release serotonin – a feel-good chemical that the nervous system uses to send messages to and from the brain.  Yes, pasta is healthy and for more reasons than just serotonin. Keep the portions sensible (about 1 to 1 1/2 cups per person) and mix it up between regular pasta and whole-grain varieties.

Tasty and versatile legumes are teeming with folate. Research has linked low levels of this B-vitamin to higher rates of depression. Add beans to soups, salads, pasta or tacos and try lentils in a cold salad or the classic Indian dish dal, made with lentils or split peas (another folate-rich legume).

Bursting with brain-boosting and heart-helping omega-3 fats, salmon is a whole-body health food. According to several research studies, those omega-3s can also help fight off a lousy mood.


According to the Vitamin D Council, research has linked deficiencies of the vitamin to depression. Since vitamin D is vital for bone health and most people don’t get enough of it, here’s another reason to get more. A bonus: Yogurt also made our list of foods for a healthy mouth.

Shopping Tip: Some yogurts have more vitamin D than others, so always check labels.


This weeknight dinner standby can also help brighten your day. The lean protein in chicken helps keep you fuller longer, which prevents drastic swings in both blood sugar and mood. Chicken also contains B-12 that has been shown to help fight depression and the amino acid tryptophan, which produces the mood-boosting serotonin. Try out our tips for lighter fried chicken.

TELL US:  What’s your favorite food when you’re in a rotten mood?

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana's full bio »

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