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Serotonin Foods

Kanika Khara
Serotonin is a naturally-occurring chemical that acts as a neurotransmitter. It is believed that this neurotransmitter affects our mood, appetite, sexual desire, sleep, and memory. This write-up provides a list of foods that are rich in serotonin.
Serotonin is a monoamine neurotransmitter that transmits nerve impulses. Studies suggest that low levels of serotonin can have an adverse effect on one's mood, and make one susceptible to anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, and various addictions.
Many antidepressants (class of drugs that are prescribed for people affected by depression) work by increasing the serotonin levels in the brain, which in turn helps alleviate the symptoms of mood swings or other problems.
Apart from brain, serotonin is also found in abundance in the digestive system and the bloodstream. The food items that we eat have the ability to increase or decrease serotonin levels in the body. Therefore, consumption of foods that increase serotonin levels in the body has a powerful impact on the way we feel.
Basically, our body doesn't get serotonin from foods we eat, but it prepares serotonin from tryptophan, a type of amino acid that is found in various protein-rich foods. Tryptophan not only acts as a precursor to serotonin, but to many other neurotransmitters as well.
Foods that Help Stimulate Production of Serotonin

Food products that might help serotonin production include:
➻ Food items that are rich in tryptophan, which include turkey, soy foods, peanuts, almonds, etc.
➻ Food items that are rich in vitamin B such as brown rice, chicken, corn, eggs, green leafy vegetables, legumes, meat, nuts, peas, sunflower seeds, nutritional yeast, etc.
➻ Food items that are rich in calcium such as almonds, brewer's yeast, green leaves and cruciferous vegetables, fish with bones, sesame seeds, tofu, etc.
➻ Food products that are rich in magnesium such as green leafy vegetables, brown rice, sesame seeds, shrimp, salmon, etc.
➻ Omega 3 fatty acids commonly found in fish oils (mackerel, salmon, sardine, tuna), walnut oil, and flax oil
➻ Omega 6 fatty acids found in canola oil, chicken, eggs, flax, grape seed oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, turkey, wheat germ oil, etc.
➻ Gamma-linolenic acid found in black current oil, bluegreen algae, borage oil, and evening primrose oil
List of Foods Rich in Serotonin

Following are some of the serotonin-rich foods that help increase the levels of serotonin in the body:

Free Range Turkey

Turkey contains tryptophan, which is required to synthesize serotonin. In fact, people often feel relaxed and sleepy after having turkey, which clearly states that it contains tryptophan in high concentrations. Moreover, it is also rich in essential fatty acids.


Eggs, especially egg whites are believed to be a very good source of serotonin. Eggs are rich in proteins and amino acids. They are also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which also comprise the essential long chain fatty acids called EPA and DHA.

Flaxseeds/Flax Oil

Flaxseeds are rich in both tryptophan and omega-3 fatty acids. Consuming flaxseeds or using flaxseed oil can prove beneficial in case of individuals affected by depression or mood-related problems.


Buckwheat is a natural starch food which is rich in vitamin B and tryptophan. It not only improves one's mood, but also boosts one's energy levels.

Wild fish and Seafood

Wild salmon, sardines, and herring contain EPA, DHA, and tryptophan. It is believed that including them in one's diet can help improve one's mood.

Whey Protein

Whey protein is a very good source of amino acids. It offers numerous health benefits, which include regulating appetite, improving insulin sensitivity and blood sugar levels, and strengthening the immune system. It raises the serotonin levels by increasing the plasma Trp-LNAA, an indicator of brain serotonin function in the body.


Being a good source of carbohydrates and tryptophan, banana is another food that increases serotonin levels in the body.

Dark Chocolate

Cocoa and dark chocolate are rich in sugar. Consuming chocolate causes a sudden spike in the blood sugar levels, which improves the mood. It increases serotonin levels, which in turn relaxes the mind.
Besides consuming the aforementioned foods, serotonin levels can be increased by exercising, getting natural sunlight every day, having enough vitamin D, laughing, getting adequate sleep, etc. So, include these food items in your diet to improve your mood, boost your energy levels, and strengthen your immune system.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this story is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a nutritionist or medical expert.