Tryptophan, also known as 5HTP, (5-Hydroxy-L-tryptophan) is an amino acid (a building block of protein) and a precursor to the chemical serotonin. Serotonin is commonly known as the ‘happy hormone’, as higher levels of it are associated with a positive mood. Luckily, it’s possible to boost your serotonin levels naturally, through consuming foods rich in tryptophan. Read on below for Happy Mood Food: Focus on The Famous 5!
Of all the seeds available, pumpkin seeds contain the highest levels of tryptophan, followed by chia seeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds. Sprinkle this happy mood food over your breakfast cereals or salads to effortlessly increase your tryptophan intake. Be mindful, however, of the calorie content of certain seeds, as, gram for gram, they can be more calorie-dense than other sources of tryptophan.
2. Soy Products
Soy products, such as tofu, are also rich in tryptophan – great news for vegans! So whether that’s rustling up some tofu scramble, tempeh quesadillas or adding soy milk to your tea, you can increase your intake appropriately to help keep your mood stable and improve sleep quality.
Whilst also being high in protein and fibre, one 180g cup of lentils will provide you with 206mg of tryptophan. That’s 74% of your RDI. Beans, such as kidney beans and pinto beans are also valuable sources. Try adding all 3 into a spicy bean chilli combo, or challenge your baking skills by incorporating mashed black beans into your brownies for a fudgy texture.
100g of oats provides around 335mg of tryptophan, contributing 120% of your RDI. Whilst this is less than the contribution from seeds, the additional health benefits of oats (as a cholesterol-lowering, source of fibre) means they are an excellent addition to your diet. Try baking some protein flapjacks or start the day with a hearty bowl of porridge (and then top it with some tryptophan-rich seeds)!
Peanuts, whether in the form of peanut butter, raw peanuts, or roasted peanuts will also contribute to your tryptophan RDI. Start your day on the right foot with porridge, peanut butter and a sprinkle of seeds. Or otherwise, opt for peanut butter and banana as your pre-workout snack to really set your mood right.