Mood Foods


According to The Journal of Neuroscience serotonin, a naturally occurring chemical messenger located in the brain, has a remarkable effect over many different brain functions including the control of mood, perception, cognition, sleep, appetite and pain. This chemical messenger interacts with receptors of the central and peripheral nervous systems located throughout our body, fluctuating and altering the individual’s brain functions, such as focus, happiness, memory and almost all other brain functions either directly or indirectly. When deficient in serotonin due to disruptions in the synthesis, absorption or response of this neurotransmitter, there is a direct effect on the brain functions. Although there is no direct way to directly increase supply of serotonin in the body, there is a way to eat certain foods and nutrients that increase the body’s levels of tryptophan, an amino acid that is necessary in the production of serotonin.


According to Dr. John Grohol, “Eating a carbohydrate-rich meal will have your body trigger a release of insulin. This in turn causes any amino acids in the blood to be absorbed into the body except for tryptophan. It remains in the bloodstream at high levels following a carbohydrate meal, which means it can freely enter the brain and cause serotonin levels to rise…also getting an adequate supply of vitamin B-6, which can influence the rate at which tryptophan is converted to serotonin (Dr. John Grohol). Altering your diet to indirectly influence your serotonin levels is a natural and healthy alternative to medications. Here are some examples of foods that are high in tryptophan to help improve your mood and make you all around happier!



There are many pros to eating turkey including its high protein content, low fat content, source of iron, zinc, potassium and phosphorus and help to lower cholesterol levels. Also, turkey is a source of vitamin B6 and niacin, essential for energy production in the body.

Most importantly you should eat turkey because it’s notorious for containing high levels of tryptophan. Turkey is a great go to source when you want to make sure you are ingesting enough tryptophan and thus are receiving the essential amino acid that is necessary for the production of serotonin.



According to an article titled, The Health Benefits of Soybeans ‘Soyabean’ is the richest plant source of protein, containing 43 percent protein as opposed to other legumes containing 20 to 25 percent protein. Furthermore, soybeans are the only vegetable that comprises all eight essential amino acids. They are also a great source of dietary fiber, provides approximately eight grams, and a good source of calcium and Vitamin B12 as well as other B-vitamins, particularly niacin, pyridoxine and folacin. Apart from its many health benefits, eat soybeans to ensure you’re getting your dose of tryptophan and thus are receiving the essential amino acid that is necessary for the production of serotonin. Control your mood with this mood food!

Salmon Fillets CREDIT AquaBounty


Salmon is notorious for its many health benefits such as its high protein content, contents of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, sustaining skin and hair health, cancer prevention, etc. What makes salmon truly special is its ability to alleviate a bad mood due to its high content of tryptophan, almost an entire day’s worth from a single filet if you weight 150 lbs.

For more options on what  ‘mood’ foods to eat, remember that as a rule of thumb, usually foods that are naturally high in either plants or animal protein, usually contain the highest levels of tryptophan per serving.


High Tryptophan Meals

  • Whole wheat chicken salad sandwich
  • Peanut butter and banana sandwich
  • Chocolate soy milk
  • Mango yogurt smoothie
  • Shrimp fried rice,
  • Grilled cheese on whole wheat bread
  • Pita bread and humus

Please take note that you should intake 4 milligrams of tryptophan per kilogram of body weight each day, according to the World Health Organization. For optimum results one should eat high-tryptophan foods with carbohydrates in order to help the body better absorb the tryptophan. And although you need tryptophan to live, research indicates eating too much too much of it may be bad for your health. Lastly, you don’t need to worry about counting and tracking your levels of tryptophan, just monitor your protein consumption to know you are getting the levels of tryptophan you need to produce serotonin you need to make you happy!

Written By Chelsea Clishem: From San Diego, California to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this bicoastal girl loves all things travel, beauty, nutrition, fitness, fashion and entertainment. Chelsea graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara where she began her journey to be an entertainment journalist. Chelsea drops the word ‘fabulous’ on the regular and believes it’s ‘okay’ to freak out with good music and fashion!