Food can affect our mood in different ways. It can increase our levels of feel-good brain chemicals, it can cause fluctuations in our blood sugar levels and it can create adverse reactions to the artificial additives used in processed food.
Eating a healthy and balanced diet is an essential component to maintaining good mental health, below we have listed 10 foods that have been proven to help boost your levels of happiness:
Oily fish, which are high in omega-3 fats such as sardines, salmon and mackerel, can help to boost levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin helps to relay messages to your brain; an imbalance can influence your mood and lead to depression.
2. Dark chocolate
The presence of cocoa polyphenols in dark chocolate can increase calmness and contentedness and decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression. It has been shown that polyphenols play an active role in stress reduction.
3. Spinach, chard and kale
Dark leafy vegetables are high in magnesium, which boosts energy levels and increases your get-up-and-go. They are also high in fibre and if eaten raw or steamed are high in folate, both of which has been shown to help combat depression.
4. Citrus fruit
Rich in vitamin C which helps to produce feel-good endorphins, citrus fruit is important in helping your body to cope with stress. Other foods rich in vitamin C include chillies, strawberries and peppers.
Seaweed is rich in iodine the nutrient that is essential for a healthy thyroid. Underactive thyroids are associated with low energy, depression and poor memory. Potatoes with purple skins are also a useful source of iodine.
8. Beans, peanuts and lentils
Legumes are packed with tryptophan, an amino acid that the body uses to make mood-boosting serotonin. Other foods high in tryptophan include poultry, seafood, dairy products and nuts and seeds.
9. Wholegrain Pasta
A great source of complex carbohydrates, fibre and vitamin B, wholegrain pasta slowly releases energy keeping your blood sugar levels stable and helps to balance your serotonin levels.
An excellent snack for people feeling depressed, stressed or tired, bananas are rich in the important amino acid tryptophan, which has been used in the treatment of insomnia, depression and anxiety. They are also rich in vitamins A, B6, fibre, potassium, phosphorous, iron and carbohydrates.