Foods that Naturally Increase Serotonin

Posted on February 04, 2011 by Serotune | 15 comments

Our customers often ask us what other options they have to increase serotonin levels.  We love this question because it gives us the opportunity to talk about how diet plays a critical role in mental well-being.

First off, for this article we're focusing on increasing serotonin levels within the central nervous system. Serotonin outside of the central nervous systems is largely created in the gut, but it does not cross the blood brain barrier so will not affect mood and anxiety.  

Finding foods that increase serotonin levels is a bit more involved then looking at a nutritional summary and eating our recommended daily allowance of serotonin.  We need to ensure our food has the amino acids, vitamins, and minerals that it needs to ensure efficient production. With that in mind we have compiled a list of foods you can easily incorporate into your diet that are not only healthy for your body, but healthy for your mind.   

The foods below all have varying amounts of tryptophan, an essential amino acid that is converted to 5-htp and then used by the brain to produce serotonin.  Additionally the nutrients found in these foods are known to be effective at addressing depressed moods. Now lets get down to business:

  • Foods high in l-tryptophan (a precursor to serotonin) such as turkey or duck, dairy products such as milk and cheese, peanuts, legumes, chickpeas, tree nuts (almonds, pistachio, pine nuts, pecan, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts, macadamia nuts), brown rice, whole grains, spinach, avocado, blue-green algae, potatoes, radish, beets, fennel, bananas, figs, pineapple, and soy products such as soy milk, tofu, tempeh, natto, and miso.
  • Flax seeds/oil, hem seeds/oil, chia seeds, walnuts, and fatty fish such mackerel and sardines, all of which contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Foods that contain glutathione such as garlic, walnuts, carrots, potatoes, squash, okra, asparagus, broccoli, spinach, purslane, tomatoes, apples, avocado, and grapefruit.
  • Iron-rich foods such as organic, grass-fed beef, spinach, bok choi, collards, swiss chard, kale, lettuce, broccoli, nuts, seeds, sprouts, and dried fruits.
  • Leafy greens, cacao, seaweed, bananas, orange, tree nuts, peanuts, whole grains, corn, cheese, eggs, milk, and white fish that all contain significant amounts of magnesium.
  • Foods high in calcium such as sardines, salmon, skimmed milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs, sesame seeds, soy, artichoke, green leafy vegetables, dried figs, watercress, cabbage, soy products, tree nuts, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, peas, lima beans, kelp, orange, strawberries, grapes, kiwi, and avocado.
  • Pumpkin seeds, nuts, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, oatmeal, parsley, oysters, steak, and egg yolk that all have above-average amounts of zinc.
  • Lean meat, cheese, whole grains, brewer’s/nutritional yeast, chestnuts, tree nuts, artichoke, broccoli, lima beans, mushrooms, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, watermelon, peaches, bananas, cantaloupe, and avocado, all of which contain vitamin B3.
  • Wheat germ, bananas, watermelon, avocado, Brussels sprouts, carrots, potatoes, whole grains, beans, green leafy vegetables, chicken, and fish, foods that have sufficient levels of vitamin B6.
  • Food sources of folate such as wheat germ, black-eyed peas, peanuts, tree nuts, bananas, orange, kiwi, strawberries, avocado, cantaloupe, bananas, blackberries, tomatoes, dark green vegetables, asparagus, green bell pepper, carrots, and liver.
  • Foods rich in vitamin C such as dark green vegetables (leafy and cruciferous), cauliflower, cabbage, sweet peppers, potatoes, black currants, guava, strawberries, acerola cherries, mango, goji berries, parsley, raw cacao, rosehips, nettle, camu-camu, and citrus fruits such as lemon, orange, and grapefruit.

Cooking these foods can decrease the amount of vitamins and makes minerals less bioavailable, so as much as possible eat your fruits and vegetables raw or lightly cooked (save perhaps beans, potatoes, and brown rice). Of course you have to cook animal flesh well to avoid unfriendly bacteria. The point is to lean heavily on plant foods to reap the maximum amount of nutrients.

In future articles we’ll discuss other lifestyle changes you can make to improve your mental state of mind.  Hopefully you have found this article useful.  If you have any questions or comments please feel free to send feedback to  Biocursor Research is the creator of Serotune, a source of natural serotonin


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  • sarah calvar

    love this article. been reading how to be mentally healthy.

  • Karol

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  • ajara

    is it perhaps too strong of a statement to say that the serotonin produced in the gut has not effect on one mood? I have read research indicating the opposite. For example, increases in anxiety symptoms among women with digestion issues. perhaps an indirect relationship?

  • ajara

    is it perhaps too strong of a statement to say that the serotonin produced in the gut has not effect on one mood? I have read research indicating the opposite. For example, increases in anxiety symptoms among women with digestion issues. perhaps an indirect relationship?

  • mike

    great article, thanks for the info

  • Mates

    Thanks, information valuable

  • Feel My Feelings

    olives, Dates, Almonds, Walnuts, Figs, Grapes, Pomegranate, Apple, whole-wheat, Pure-Honey, Cow’s Milk (raw), natural Spring Water,
    are contains maximum Serotonin produce all Essential Amino-Acids + Folic Acids

  • janet

    Thanks, found that info very helpful

  • Meghan

    90% of serotonin production is in the gut. So your information in your article is incorrect or at the very least misleading.

  • younus

    very healthy information every body should read and know it thanks


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