Which foods increase serotonin?

In order for the neurotransmitter serotonin to perform its many tasks, it must be available in a certain amount in the body. Serotonin is formed primarily in the intestines, but also in the brain, from the amino acid L-tryptophan, which is found in certain foods. Eating these foods can promote serotonin production and thus increase serotonin levels.

Where is serotonin found?

Serotonin in Lebensmittel

Serotonin itself is not contained in any food in sufficient quantity to have an effect. This is because serotonin from food cannot pass through the blood-brain barrier and consequently does not reach the brain at all, where it could develop its effect. Therefore, the neurotransmitter is not only produced in the intestine, but also in the brain. This requires the amino acid tryptophan, which, in contrast to serotonin, can or must be taken in with food, since the body cannot produce it itself.

There are certain foods that contain relatively large amounts of tryptophan. The best known of these is chocolate, which is said to make you happy for a reason. In a sense, that's true, because the tryptophan it contains can stimulate serotonin production - or at least taste good enough to improve mood. The same seems to be true for cocoa.

In contrast, the connection between coffee and serotonin has not yet been definitively clarified and apparently also depends on the type of coffee [1]. Thus, a higher content of tryptophan could be detected in coffee from Arabica beans than in coffee from Robusta beans [2].

Serotonin in Obst und Nüssen

Meat (beef, pork, poultry) is also high in tryptophan, as are eggs and dairy products such as yogurt and cheese (especially Parmesan, Emmental, Camembert).

Serotonin and vegan is not a contradiction: those who eat a vegan diet find larger amounts of tryptophan in chickpeas, soy and nuts (especially walnuts, peanuts and cashews) and in porcini mushrooms, and as a precursor of serotonin in oatmeal and other cereal products. The precursor of serotonin is also found in fruit.

Which fruit contains serotonin?

If you want to increase your serotonin through fruit, you should choose fruits that contain a high proportion of tryptophan. These include mainly bananas and dried fruits such as dates and figs, but also pineapple, apricots and plums.

Conclusion on serotonin in foods

Since serotonin is not contained directly in any food, it is only possible to increase the concentration of serotonin in the diet indirectly via the serotonin precursor tryptophan. Fruit such as bananas, dates or figs are recommended to promote serotonin. However, certain vegetables, meat and other animal products such as yogurt or cheese, and oatmeal are also suitable.


[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22017393/
[2] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0308814609006505