15 Foods That Scientifically Alter Your Mood

Because you can't pack drugs for lunch. (Oh, wait.)

Woman sitting on wooden table eating a slice of watermelon
(Image credit: Getty)

Pretty much the only thing we have in common with Christian Grey is a preference for exercising control in all things—that and an appreciation for Edward Ruscha (opens in new tab)—which is why the idea of using food to change your mood sounds so scientific and Übermensch-y (Überfrauen-y?) and just plain cool.

In the pursuit of self-improvement and, you know, feeling better, we've assembled a list of healthy-ish foods and their emotional effects below. Seek bad-day bonbons elsewhere—though there are definitely (opens in new tab) times (opens in new tab) when those work too.

Mashed potatoes

Spuds contain the chemical chromium, which raises the brain's serotonin levels. (Serotonin = happy-making.)

Avocado

Besides being creamy and ridiculously tasty, avocado is a good source of fatigue-reducing folate, aka folic acid.

Almonds

There's a reason why magnesium, which these nuts have in spades, has been used to treat depression (opens in new tab) for 100 years. The omega-3 essential fatty acids in walnuts will do the trick too.

Watermelon

The answer here is potassium, a mineral that helps keep blood pressure capped. (Bonus: The dietary fiber buys you some alone time in the bathroom, if you know what I mean.)

Oranges

Vitamin C has been proven to help people handle stressful situations, such as math tests and public speaking, better. Their tough skins mean they won't get smushed in your purse either and make everything even worse. Similar options: blueberries, strawberries, pretty much any berry.

Asparagus

Calming Vitamin B will keep you cool enough to plot your next move/revenge.

Kiwis

Weird, right? It's that serotonin again, which has been shown (opens in new tab) in studies to improve sleep quality and duration. Eat it this way (opens in new tab) for the maximum benefit.

Cereal

Grains trigger insulin production, which raises your blood sugar naturally. Also try: oatmeal, jasmine rice, whole-grain bread.

(Night) Cheese

Follow Liz Lemon's lead and have a few ounces of cheddar before bed: Calcium helps the brain use the tryptophan found in dairy to manufacture sleep-inducing melatonin.

You should also check out:

11 Seemingly Unhealthy Foods That Aren't So Bad for You (opens in new tab)

How to Cure Every Food Craving (opens in new tab)

5 Things You're Doing Wrong With Food (opens in new tab)

Chelsea Peng
Chelsea Peng

Chelsea Peng is a writer and editor who was formerly the assistant editor at MarieClaire.com. She's also worked for The Strategist and Refinery29, and is a graduate of Northwestern University. On her tombstone, she would like a GIF of herself that's better than the one that already exists on the Internet and a free fro-yo machine. Besides frozen dairy products, she's into pirates, carbs, Balzac, and snacking so hard she has to go lie down.