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Woman eating mood-boosting foods

Mood-boosting foods to add to your diet

3 MIN READ • 27th March 2024

Feeling a bit 'meh'? Nutritionist Shona Wilkinson, from ethical supplement and nutrition brand DR.VEGAN, shares five of her favourite mood-boosting foods to add to your diet

People often overlook the impact food can have on our mood – in fact, there’s a whole host of ingredients out there that can significantly improve how we feel day-to-day. These ingredients have been used by different cultures around the world over the course of history and are now often used in herbal remedies to bring about unique mood-boosting effects. Below are some examples of mood-boosting foods you might want to incorporate into your diet if you’re in need of a mental boost…

Mood-boosting foods to try today

Brazil nuts

Brazil nuts are one of the richest dietary sources of selenium, an essential mineral that can have a big impact on your mood.

Some studies have found that people with low levels of selenium are more likely to feel low, while people tend to experience an improved mood when selenium uptake is increased. 

Try keeping some brazil nuts handy for a tasty snack if you’re looking for an afternoon pick-me-up, but don’t eat too many – too high levels of selenium can cause dizziness, rashes and even a metallic taste in your mouth.


Kimchi is a Korean dish made from fermented veggies that usually includes green onions, Chinese cabbage, radish, ginger and salt.

It’s rich in a real variety of nutrients and even contains probiotics – live bacteria that helps improve gut health. Studies have linked a healthy competition of gut bacteria with positive effects on our mood, which is due to the connection between the gut and the brain, known as the ‘gut-brain axis’.

A healthy gut produces over 90 percent of our serotonin, known as ‘the happy hormone’, so it’s essential to keep our gut thriving with the help of probiotics. 

Things like kombucha and sauerkraut are also great for improving gut health, or you can use a supplement such as DR.VEGAN’s GutWorks for ultimate gut support.

Dark Leafy Greens

Spinach, chard and other leafy greens contain the mood-moderating, super-hero mineral magnesium.

Those of us who get more magnesium in our diet tend to feel generally happier as it stimulates receptors of a calming hormone in our brains called ‘GABA’ whilst inhibiting the stress hormone, cortisol, 

To help you reach your daily magnesium requirements, load up on greens, avocados, legumes, and whole grains, or simply bridge nutritional gaps with a supplement (such as DR.VEGAN’s magnesium supplement).  

Dark Chocolate

Unlike milk chocolate, which contains added sugar and milk, dark chocolate contains some powerful compounds associated with the feel-good chemicals in the brain.

This includes tryptophan, an amino acid that assists our body in producing serotonin, phenylethylamine, a compound chemical which stimulates the pleasure centres in the brain to boost endorphins, and anandamide, a fatty acid neurotransmitter, often known as a bliss chemical.

Thanks to these compounds, dark chocolate really can be a delicious way to help you relax and boost your mood.


Ashwagandha is a little-known but highly efficient plant, classed as a modern-day adaptogen. It was a staple of traditional Indian medicine for thousands for years and nowadays millions of people around the world are enjoying its mood-boosting benefits. 

This herb balances the body’s stress response and lowers cortisol levels (the stress hormone) – it can also play a role in alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression through its powerful antioxidant properties. 

Ashwagandha can be consumed as a tea, but is most commonly consumed through supplements.

Perhaps the most important thing we can do to boost our mood is enjoy a healthy, balanced diet filled with a real variety of high-quality ingredients whilst incorporating regular exercise into a generally active lifestyle. That being said, some of the ingredients mentioned above can go a long way in boosting your feel-good endorphins, relieving stress and generally improving your mental health, making them great mood-boosting foods. Ultimately, exploring unconventional ingredients can open up a whole new world of mood-boosting possibilities. 

Shona Wilkinson is the lead nutritionist at ethical supplement and nutrition brand DR.VEGAN.

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