Since coming to college, I have met handfuls of people who seem to rely a lot on drugs (both prescribed and not prescribed) in order to be happy. Of course, sometimes drugs (usually the prescribed ones that are specifically prescribed to you) can be helpful and maybe even necessary in some cases, but when it comes to recreational drug use, there are other options.

Personally, food makes me happier than any drug could ever make me, but I understand that not everyone has the same love for food as I do. But, there are certain foods that are scientifically proven to help boost your dopamine levels, which will make you happier. 

What is dopamine?

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is a key factor in motivation, productivity, and focus. In simpler terms, it is the brain's feel good chemical. It has also been called the "motivation molecule" because it boosts drive, focus, and concentration. It enables us to plan ahead and resist impulses so we can achieve our goals. Dopamine gives us the "I did it!" feeling we get when we accomplish something we set out to do. And when comparing food to drugs, the most important thing that dopamine does is allow us to feel enjoyment, bliss, and euphoria, which is usually why people do drugs. 

So, what should you eat if you want to raise your dopamine levels? Foods that are high in tyrosine, the amino acid that dopamine is made from, which will give your body the building blocks needed for dopamine production. But some foods, like cake, can cause a short-term dopamine rush and then cause a dopamine crash. So maybe instead of doing that last bump, check out these 15 tyrosine-filled foods that are proven to raise the dopamine levels in your brain. 

1. Almonds

nut, almond, peanut, pecan, meat
Julia Fuller

Almonds and other nuts contain lots of tyrosine, which will get those dopamine levels up. Almonds are a great snack to eat between classes but can also be used to make desserts like this vegan almond pecan brownie or this traditional Belgian almond tart

2. Cheese

pasta, macaroni, sauce, cheese, tortellini, spaghetti
Annie Madole

What can make you happier than cheese? There are so many things you can eat with cheese, whether it's this tailgate cheese dip, a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich, or the best mac n' cheese in America

3. Fruits

sweet, berry, raspberry, strawberry
Kristine Mahan

Fruits like apples, bananas, berries, watermelon, and papaya don't only contain quercetin and tyrosine which (both of which stimulate the production of dopamine), but they are also filled with vitamins. You can get your daily dose of fruits by drinking smoothies, eating these fruit-filled desserts or making your own açaí bowl.

4. Meat

steak, beef, barbecue, meat, sirloin, fillet, pork, sauce
Lauren Lim

Want to cook up a steak dinner at home but you're not sure how? Try this recipe out. 

5. Fish

sushi, seafood, salmon, fish, rice, tuna, vegetable
Eva Chen

As a sushi and seafood lover, I am definitely happy that this one made the list. There are so many things to eat when it comes to fish, like these homemade fish tacos, a sushi burger or a sushi burrito. If you don't feel like going out to get your fish fix, you can even make your own sushi at home.

6. Green Vegetables

broccoli, vegetable, salad, herb, parsley, kale
Elizabeth Layman

Green vegetables are filled with tyrosine and also have many other health benefits like reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease. If you're sick of salad or don't really like green veggies, try some of these unconventional ways to eat more vegetables.

7. Seeds

sweet, chocolate, candy
Keni Lin

Seeds are a super easy way to get your fair share of dopamine-producing tyrosine. You can snack on them in class, in the library, or you can get fancy with them. If you aren't into eating plain seeds, try making chia seed pudding or some pumpkin seed trail mix.

8. Oatmeal

blueberry, cereal, sweet, milk, yogurt, muesli, berry, oatmeal, porridge
Becky Hughes

Woke up on the wrong side of the bed? Eat some oatmeal to raise your dopamine levels. You can even make it in the microwave

9. Green Tea

smoothie, sweet, juice
Christin Urso

Get #trendy and drink some green tea. You can have it in regular tea form, you can drink a green tea smoothie, or you can even eat some green tea frozen yogurt. Not only will green tea make you happier, but it can also help you clean your house.

10. Eggs

tomato, egg
Ashton Caudle

There are so many things you can eat when it comes to eggs. Hard boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, omelets, and more. You can even eat eggs for every meal of the day without getting bored. 

11. Chocolate

chocolate, candy, truffle, sweet, milk, cocoa, coffee
Emily Hue

Chocolate can definitely raise your dopamine levels, but you have to make sure you are eating the right kind. Things like brownies and cookies will raise your dopamine levels briefly, but you'll eventually crash. The best kind of chocolate to eat is dark chocolate, which can be eaten in many different shapes and forms. You can eat chocolate-covered fruit, chocolate-covered pretzels, or you can just eat plain chocolate. 

12. Coffee

coffee, espresso, cappuccino, milk, mocha
Gabby Phi

Find out everything you need to know about coffee here.

13. Oregano Oil

wine, alcohol, liquor, beer
Jessica Payne

Oregano oil is great because it can be put in so many different dishes. Try this homemade pizza or this baked salmon

14. Seaweed

nori, sushi, seafood, laver, kombu, wakame, aonori
Jaye Lind

Seaweed is a great snack and it is also in sushi. Enough said. 

15. Yogurt

jam, gelatin, marmalade
Yonotan Soler

Regular yogurt will definitely raise your dopamine levels, but if you're looking for something a little different, try making these yogurt parfait popsicles