Eating for happiness

The foods we eat have a lot to say about our overall happiness. Here are 14 foods that boost serotonin, endorphins and other happiness chemicals in the body naturally.

1. Asparagus

As one of the top plant-based sources of tryptophan — that amino acid found in turkey that makes you sleepy — asparagus helps boost serotonin levels in the body. The body naturally synthesizes tryptophan into serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps maintain a positive mood and keeps depression at bay. The high levels of folate in asparagus can also help boost your happiness; research shows that about half the people who live with depression also have low levels of folate.

2. Avocado

Avocados pack a hefty punch of serotonin-boosting vitamin B3. Not only that, but Zoe Copsey, managing director of Lomax Food & Nutrition Planning, states that avocados also contain omega-3 fatty acids. These have been linked to brain health and mood regulation. So, while the fatty acids don’t directly produce happiness hormones, they naturally support them.

3. Blue potatoes

Potato skins contain the best nutrients in this vegetable. For blue potatoes, the skin contains ample iodine, which helps regulate the thyroid gland. This little gland is responsible for many functions of the body, not the least of which is mood regulation. Dr. Drew Ramsey, co-author of “The Happiness Diet: A Nutritional Prescription for a Sharp Brain, Balanced Mood and Lean, Energized Body,” calls the thyroid one of the body’s “master mood regulators.” Keeping the thyroid happy can help keep you happy.

4. Cherry tomatoes

All tomatoes contain lycopene in their skins, but the increased amount of surface area on cherry tomatoes — as opposed to larger varieties — means they pack a bigger punch of the phytonutrient. One of lycopene’s largest benefits is the prevention of buildup of pro-inflammatory compounds that researchers have linked to depression. Olive oil helps increase the amount of lycopene the body can absorb, and organic is definitely the way to go for cherry tomatoes. UC Davis researchers have found higher levels of lycopene in organic tomatoes.

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