Feel like that delicious meal just gave you a major mood boost? Turns out there’s some science behind foods that make you happy.
Research has linked eating more fruits and veggies to a boost in happiness and well-being. A 2017 study also found noshing on certain vegetables, fruits, and sweets made people feel happier (bonus: dinner and snacking both gave people good food feels).
Need a pick-me-up, stat? Here are 15 foods that *might* help boost your mood.
Honestly, it’s a miracle millennials aren’t happier, because avocado can seriously make you smile (even if you can’t buy a house or whatever).
Rich in monounsaturated fats (aka the “healthy” ones), this green, fleshy fruit is linked to lower anxiety symptoms. According to 2020 research, eating more high quality fats like the ones in avocado is associated with a lower anxiety score in women.
Let’s be real: You don’t need us to tell you that chocolate makes you feel good. It just does.
Aside from the sugar rush, 2020 research found cocoa helped improve brain performance in young adults. A 2019 study also found dark chocolate intake was associated with a lower risk of depressive symptoms.
Coffee is often vilified, but we’re *not* here for it. A 2016 review found caffeine intake is associated with lower levels of depression and anxiety. Combine that with antioxidants linked to lowering inflammation, and we just single-handedly justified every latte over-spender ever.
If you’re after “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” vibes, this palm fruit *might* help.
Coconut is full of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). These fatty acids are linked to more energy expenditure that may help aid weight loss and athletic performance. And while not a totally proven theory, a 2018 animal study found MCTs may help reduce anxiety.
Still, some older research doesn’t support the idea that MCTs can raise energy levels at all.
Forget Y2K era egg-white omelets — the yolk is truly all it’s cracked up to be. The yellow stuff is high in choline, which helps regulate your mood, memory, and other important things like muscle control.
Eating any fruit will likely give your health a mood boost, but berries just might be the berry best.
Next time you’re pressed because the red peppers cost extra, know your dollar’s probably worth it. Red peps aren’t just the ripest of the bell pepper fam, but they also have considerably high nutrient density scores.
If you’re low on iron, you can feel tired and sluggish (hello, anemia). Plot twist, you won’t get a ton of iron from red peppers, but you will get vitamin C, which helps your gut better absorb iron.
Wine contains high amounts of resveratrol, which has been linked to depression relief, disease management, and overall health. Meanwhile, while not 10/10 proven, a 2013 study linked drinking the *occasional* glass of red wine (we’re talking 2 to 7 glasses a week) with reduced depression risk.
Bonus: It has loads of heart-healthy polyphenols.
These marine greens may be an acquired taste, but it’s actually a super nutrient-dense snack.
Instead of piling on the salt for a dose of iodine, eat some seaweed. Iodine’s essential to healthy thyroid production, which can have a big impact on your energy, mood, and overall quality of life.
Though iodine deficiency is rare in developed nations, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), noshing on some seaweed is one of the healthiest and best ways to get it.
A moment of silence for all the kids personally victimized by the “I’m on a seafood diet — I see food, then I eat it” dad joke. Now, let’s eat some salmon.
Though researchers don’t know for sure what could be going on here (something fishy?!), it may be due to omega-3’s inflammation-quashing effects.
Crack a walnut, crack the code to happiness? The research says: pretty much. These babies have omega-3s and those healthy fats we keep stressing.
In a small 2016 study, researchers found that male college students who added half a cup of walnuts to their daily diet experienced a significant mood boost within 8 weeks.
Beet it, bad days. Beets contain lots of folate, which according to 2017 research, may play a role in fending off depression. In the study, researchers found that people without depression had higher folate levels than those who did.
Hangry for carbs? (Same.) You might feel especially strong cravings for carb-erific foods when your hormones are all over, whether from PMS, stress, or a breakup 💔.
Complex carbs like whole-grain bread are a solid way to settle these surging chemical messengers without crashing your system later on. Seriously, just *try* to feel bad after eating a whole grain PB&J.
Honey can be a solid swap for table sugar (unless you’re vegan, then you do you, K?!). It also has super healthy compounds like kaempferol and quercetin — big words for handy chemicals that help reduce inflammation and *might* keep depressive symptoms at bay.
Honey also has antibacterial properties, which may ward off “bad” bacteria that might make you feel less-than-yourself.
In general, eating a healthy diet packed with fruits and veggies is linked to greater happiness. Whole grains, healthy fats, and nutrient-rich proteins (fish, nuts, beans), can also do your health, mind, and mood some major favors.
If you’re not sure what diet’s best for you, talk with your healthcare professional or a registered dietician.