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12 Super Foods That Will Make You Super Happy (We Love #5!)
If you find that you are feeling down or have the blues, it could be that you have low levels of an important neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine determines your creativity levels, level of alertness, feelings of satisfaction, attention, and concentration levels. It also affects the part of the brain that controls your movements and emotional responses.
When you have low levels of this important neurotransmitter, you can have difficulty with concentration, feelings of fatigue, anxiety, overeating, insomnia, and very frequent mood changes.
Sometimes what you really need to pull yourself out of the dumps is a two week all-expenses paid vacation to a tropical island. Unless you have that in the works, what you can do is to increase foods that will give you a good boost of dopamine.
We have a list of 12 of the best super foods that can naturally increase your levels of dopamine, increasing your feelings of satisfaction and happiness.
Keep reading! Happiness is just around the corner at your supermarket!
1. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are rich in tyrosine, a compound that will increase your dopamine levels. These seeds also have vitamin E, which stimulates the production of dopamine and reduces the free radicals that can cause damage to the brain on a cellular level. Pumpkin seeds can make you more alert and sharpen your thinking skills. These tasty little seeds are known to lower cholesterol levels, prevent kidney stones, and help prevent prostate cancer. Roasted pumpkin seeds are a super healthy snack in which you should feel free to indulge.
There are several herbs that often get overlooked when it comes to health benefits, especially for increasing dopamine levels. The best herbs to stimulate the production of this neurotransmitter are:
These are best consumed as herbal tea to get the full benefit. Drink two or three cups each day until you start doing your happy dance.
There is a powerful antioxidant found in apples called quercetin, which is well-known for encouraging brain health. Studies have shown that this compound prevents neurodegenerative disease while stimulating the production of dopamine. This will make you feel more passion and pleasure in your life. Apples also contain polyphenols, which is another type of antioxidant that protects your very important dopamine cells from damage. To get all the dopamine benefits possible, eat one complete apple, including the skin, each day. Any type, color, variety, or flavor that suits you is the one you should eat!
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4. Wheat Germ
Wheat germ will supply your body with an essential amino acid called phenylalanine. Your body will convert this amino acid into tyrosine, which will stimulate the release of dopamine. Be careful not to consume wheat germ if you are gluten intolerant or allergic to wheat, but for everyone else, put wheat germ in your cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, and smoothies for some of that feel-good dopamine release.
5. Dark Chocolate
Many people turn to chocolate when they are feeling down in the dumps, and there is good reason for that. Chocolate contains phenylalanine, the essential amino acid we mentioned above that is important in the production of dopamine. To get the most dopamine potential possible, try to get dark chocolate with a minimum of 85 percent cocoa. Just eating an ounce of chocolate will make you feel better and as soon as the dopamine kicks in, you might be tempted to eat more, but don’t. One ounce of this delight is all you need.
You always knew there was a reason eating watermelon on a hot summer day makes you feel so good! It’s the tyrosine watermelon contains! Tyrosine will be converted in the body into dopamine, which results in you feeling happy and satisfied with your life. Watermelon is high in vitamin B6 as well, which causes your body to produce more neurotransmitters like dopamine. This fruit is also low in calories, is fat free, and hydrates you while giving you a dopamine boost. What more could you ask?
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Although all tree nuts will help your brain maintain proper dopamine levels, almonds are considered by many scientists to be the best for this purpose. These favorite nuts contain phenylalanine, the essential amino acid is necessary for your brain to produce dopamine. Almonds are also high in fiber and healthy fats, which are just as important to the brain as your overall health. Eat one handful of raw almonds each day as a happy snack. Try to avoid smoked or salted almonds.
Beet root contains a type of amino acid called betaine, which acts as a type of antidepressant that stimulates the production of dopamine. Beets are high in iron, which can give you more energy, plus they are low in calories. You can drink freshly squeezed beet juice each day or roast some beets and add them to your dinner menu. Avoid canned beets and be certain that the beets you are buying are organic, as most conventionally grown beets are GM products.
We have been talking a lot about foods that contain the amino acid tyrosine, which helps to stimulate and regulate dopamine levels in the brain. Well, you can add bananas to that list. Bananas improve your concentration levels, increase your memory and alertness, and are packed with other important nutrients. All it takes is one banana each day to feel good. Aim for the riper, sweeter banana as their tyrosine content is higher and therefore more potent.
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Having salmon for lunch sounds better all the time! Wild salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are vital for overall brain development and proper function. These fatty acids are important for the building of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, which can protect you from those awful mood swings, and even depression. If salmon isn’t your cup of tea, try other cold water fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel, halibut, sardines, and rainbow trout. These are best consumed when they have been grilled or smoked to get the most dopamine stimulation possible.
Eggs are good anytime you want to eat them! These tasty, versatile foods are high in amino acids, which will help to stimulate the metabolism and trigger the production of dopamine. Phenylalanine is one of the nine essential amino acids found in eggs, and plays an important part when it comes to making dopamine. Eggs are super versatile as well. Try some hard boiled ones sliced into your salad, have egg salad for dinner or lunch, or make omelets any time of the day or night!
SEE ALSO: Top 10 Super Affordable Superfoods
Rich in vitamin C, strawberries are very important for your overall brain health. Vitamin C fights free radicals in the brain so it can produce dopamine easier. These tasty little fruits are high in antioxidants such as anthocyanins and ellagitannins, which protect your dopaminergic neurons from damage. Always choose organic strawberries as these are higher in antioxidants, resulting in higher levels of dopamine.
Don’t forget that exercise also causes your brain to release dopamine (and lots of it), so eat right and get some exercise every single day for the happiest you that you can be!