3 Surprising Foods for Happiness

3 Surprising Foods for Happiness

Want to boost your mood? Try these healthy foods with nutrients that fight anxiety, depression, stress and more.

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By Laurie Herr

If you want to feel happier, check what you’re feeding your brain. That’s the advice of Drew Ramsey, MD, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University in New York and co-author of The Happiness Diet. “We all want to be happy, but every day most of us consume what amounts to a series of ‘Unhappy Meals,’” he writes. These three brain-friendly foods from his book may surprise you, but try adding them to your diet. Over time you may see a sharper, zippier—and happier—you. 


Dark Chocolate

2 / 4 Dark Chocolate

“Lose the guilt and build a better brain,” says Dr. Ramsey. Indulging in just a few ounces a day will do the trick.

Happiness perks: The research isn’t definitive, but studies suggest special flavonols in chocolate help increase blood flow to the brain and can boost mood, sharpen your thinking and lower mental fatigue.

Go for: Chocolate with 70 percent or higher cacao, chocolate’s main ingredient. “The darker, the better,” Ramsey says. 


3 / 4 Mussels

Contrary to popular belief, mussels are not bottom feeders. They’re also highly nutrient dense.

Happiness perks: Mussels are one of the highest sources of vitamin B12, which boosts energy and sharpens memory in people who are deficient in this key nutrient. Iron, zinc and selenium all add more brain power.

Go for: Mussels instead of chicken fingers. “They’re the perfect finger food,” Ramsey says. And because you can’t eat mussels fast—and kids love the mild taste—they make a great family meal.

Sunflower Seeds

4 / 4 Sunflower Seeds

These seeds may be small, but they’re mighty in nutrition.

Happiness perks: Sunflower seeds are a top source of vitamin E, which helps protect the brain from oxidative stress and fights depression. In fact just one ounce of sunflower seeds provides half of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin E.

Go for them as snacks or salad toppings, and look for breads made with sunflower seeds. 



Happy? Happiness has a powerful impact on one’s general health. This positive emotion can boost your mood, lift your spirits and inspire you. Learn more from our experts about happiness.