Can Oatmeal Put You In A Better Mood?

Have you ever felt happier after eating a good bowl of oatmeal? It turns out that what you eat can have an effect on your mood. How? According to a 2016 study, tryptophan, an essential amino acid, directly affects your serotonin levels. Serotonin is a hormone that helps regulate your mood, anxiety, and happiness. People with depression often have low serotonin levels, along with a genetic or biological factor (via Hormone Health Network). 

Therefore, adding foods high in tryptophan can put you in a better mood, and oatmeal happens to be one of those foods. The fiber in oatmeal helps regulate your blood sugar and mood and helps you feel full longer than other foods. In addition, the iron in oatmeal can also help put you in a better mood, since iron deficiency anemia is linked to depression, according to a 2018 study

According to WebMD, foods with tryptophan can help with mood, depression, learning, memory, cognition, and aggression. But, unfortunately, you can only get tryptophan from foods, as your body doesn't create this essential amino acid. 

Healthline shows that a half cup of rolled oats has just 154 calories and is a good source of protein, carbs, fiber, thiamine, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium. WebMD reports that one cup of oatmeal has 147 milligrams of tryptophan. According to Self, one cup of oat bran has 285 milligrams of tryptophan. 

Ready to add some oatmeal to your diet? Let's try it. 

How to add oatmeal to your diet

Rolled oats are commonly used for oatmeal, but you can find oat bran. The more processed the oats are, the fewer nutrients they contain. According to Healthline, steel-cut oats are chopped, rolled oats are heated and rolled flat, and quick oats are chopped and partially cooked.

The only oats you should stay away from are quick oats, because they are so processed and usually have added sugar and flavorings. They are the ones you typically find in individual packets that are microwave-ready. Instead, stick with rolled or steel-cut oats by checking the ingredients list. Steel-cut oats are chewy and have a slightly nutty flavor. Rolled oats are softer and less nutty tasting. Look for one that lists only steel cut oats or rolled oats. That gives you complete control over what you want to add to it. 

Try some overnight oats and transform your breakfast. It's convenient and easy because it will be ready for you in the morning. Grab a container like a mason jar and add a serving of oats and your favorite milk. You can add some sweetener to taste if you prefer. Some sweeteners you can add to oats are sugar, agave, maple syrup, honey, or none. Mix well and top with your favorite fruit. Cover and let sit in your fridge overnight. Enjoy breakfast the following day and see if your oatmeal puts you in a better mood.