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Foods that Increase Dopamine and Serotonin

by Laura Nalin


Dopamine and serotonin are neurotransmitters that play a crucial role in regulating our mood, behavior, and overall well-being. Certain foods can help boost the production and release of these neurotransmitters, leading to increased levels of happiness, motivation, and pleasure. Let’s explore some foods that increase dopamine and serotonin as well as their nutritional properties!


Foods that increase dopamine:

  1. Protein-rich foods: Protein is a building block for dopamine production. Foods such as chicken, turkey, beef, fish, eggs, and tofu are excellent sources of protein that can help boost dopamine levels.

  2. Nuts and seeds: Nuts and seeds are rich in tyrosine, an amino acid that is essential for dopamine synthesis. Almonds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds are all good sources of tyrosine.

  3. Dairy products: Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt contain the amino acid tyrosine, which is a precursor to dopamine. These foods can help boost dopamine levels and improve mood.

  4. Fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables such as bananas, avocados, spinach, and kale contain high levels of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that can help support dopamine production.

Foods that increase serotonin:

  1. Complex carbohydrates: Complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, brown rice, quinoa, and sweet potatoes can help increase serotonin levels by boosting the production of tryptophan, an amino acid that is converted into serotonin in the brain.

  2. Legumes: Legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, and black beans are rich in tryptophan, which can help increase serotonin levels - great options for the vegans and vegetarians!

  3. Fatty fish: Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to increase serotonin levels and improve mood.

  4. Dark chocolate: Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which have been shown to increase blood flow to the brain and boost serotonin levels. Consuming dark chocolate in moderation can help improve mood and reduce anxiety.

All in all, incorporating these foods into your diet can help boost dopamine and serotonin levels, leading to improved mood, motivation, and overall well-being. However, it is important to note that a balanced diet, regular exercise, and proper sleep are also essential for maintaining healthy dopamine and serotonin levels! Cooking at home is not only budget-friendly, but can be a meditative practice for some. Try your best to incorporate some of these above in your daily meal prep!


Disclaimer: The information provided on the site is for psycho-educational purposes only, and does not substitute for professional medical advice. We always advise you to speak with a dietary professional or PCP to ensure you are making dietary choices that are right for you and your unique body. If you struggle with disordered eating, always consult with your care team around dietary changes.

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