The Happiness Diet

Best mood-boosting foods to brighten your day.
Text by Corina Tan
Happiness Diet


In the throes of the pandemic, the focus on mental health has shifted to one of great importance in the overall wellness of a person. Where healthy eating was previously associated with physical wellness, science has now indicated that foods you eat also affect your mind.

Poor nutrition can lead to depression, anxiety, and even aggression. Certain foods will instead support the processes in the body responsible for positive moods and high energy levels. Here’s a list of the happiness diet foods:

Fatty Fish

Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and have the ability to cross into the brain, having a direct effect on mood-regulating molecules and neurotransmitters there. Research has consistently linked low levels of omega-3s with mood disorders like depression and anxiety. Seafood like salmon, mackerel, and canned tuna are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are healthy fats with benefits throughout your body including brain.


Research has identified a particular bacterium called Lactobacillus that may have a strong impact on triggering feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. One study found that feeding our gut with these good bacteria found naturally in foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut keeps the blues at bay and increases our resilience in the face of stress.


Bananas contain prebiotic fibre, which, along with Lactobacillus, are essential for gut health that promotes a happy brain. They are not only shaped like a smile but are a mood-boosting powerhouse. This is in part because they’re also high in vitamin B6, one nutrient behind the production of the happiness hormone serotonin. Bananas may also help you get a great night’s sleep, which can definitely be a mood-lifter.

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashews, and seeds like pumpkin, chia, and sesame are great sources of magnesium. Additionally, they also include tryptophan, an amino acid associated with good moods. Magnesium is a mineral that supports our body’s energy production. Not getting enough can lead to irritability, anxiety, sleeplessness, and agitation. Nuts and seeds can also be great vegetarian sources of those crucial omega-3 fatty acids.


Oysters being an aphrodisiac is still up for debate, but oysters can definitely elevate one’s mood. They pack the highest zinc content of any food, which is linked with anxiety and depression when we’re deficient. Oysters also contain tyrosine, an amino acid that helps our body produce the feel good hormone dopamine.


Water is worth a mention for a happiness diet because although it is not food, staying hydrated is an easy way to help people experience an improved mood. Getting enough water also prevents headaches, brain fog, fatigue and body aches. As our water intake goes up, symptoms of tension and depression go down.

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