“They’re high in vitamin B6,” Miller says, which is necessary for creating the neurotransmitters that help your body make serotonin and dopamine—both of which influence mood. In fact, one study showed that low levels of vitamin B6 were associated with depressive symptoms in older adults. That’s not to say the vitamin is a viable treatment for depression, per se, but a deficiency seems to have an effect.
“They also provide tryptophan, which is fantastic for mood stability,” Miller adds. Tryptophan, it turns out, also plays a role in creating serotonin, and research shows that low levels of the amino acid are associated with depression and anxiety.
Mood-boosting benefits aside, bananas have their fair share of health benefits: “They have soluble fiber, which is great support for the microbiome,” Miller adds (as you may know, any food that’s great for the gut is also simultaneously brain-healthy), and bananas are a good source of magnesium. Plus, they’re naturally sweet, which is why Miller uses a 12th of a banana in many of her baking recipes—a smidgen won’t affect the taste too much (just in case you’re not in the mood for a banana-flavored treat), but that bit alone can enhance the sweetness of all your baked goods.