It’s great to feel great! Although there is no magic bullet to being completely happy, there are certain foods that, when eaten as part of a balanced diet, are scientifically proven to benefit our wellbeing.
Fish and algae for happiness
Fish is a rich source of essential amino acids and vitamin D, which are both vital for creating the happy hormone serotonin. As a bonus, fish – particularly oily varieties contains a high level of DHA and EPA (omega 3 fatty acids) helping to release and transport more serotonin to cells. As well as depression, low serotonin levels are linked to a wide range of brain disorders including ADHD, mood swings, poor decision making and impulsive behaviour. Public Health England recommend eating two portions of fish per week, one which is oily such as mackerel, salmon and tuna. Fish not your thing? Reach for spirulina, seaweed, chia seeds, flax seeds and hemp seeds, which contain alpha linoleic acid (ALA) that can be converted into DHA by the body.
Cacao for a happy heart
Chocolate is a feel good food due to its perfect combination of fat and sugar, which is a sensory pleasure for most. Additionally, cocoa beans harvest powerful compounds called flavanols. When eaten regularly, flavanols in cocoa help to keep our heart healthy by increasing nitric oxide which is important for maintaining the blood vessel wall. To receive the benefits, choose a dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa solids. A daily 10g serving of high flavanol chocolate is sufficient.
Eggs for power
Eggs are rich in protein (about 12 g per 100 g) and low in calories (about 150 calories per 100 g). In addition, they are inexpensive, versatile to cook with and are available all over the world making them the ultimate functional food. Along with 18 vitamins and minerals, eggs contain disease preventing compounds and high levels of choline – a nutrient which is essential for the normal development of the brain.
Fibre for feeling slimmer
Diets that are high in fibre could aid long term weight loss. One study of 252 healthy American women showed that those eating a higher fibre diet had a reduction in energy intake which significantly reduced their risk of gaining weight and body fat. Additionally, the billions of beneficial bacteria that populate our gut love fibre. As gut bacteria (collectively known as microflora) chow down on the fibrous matter, they produce short chain fatty acids which are absorbed into the blood stream and deliver a multitude of health benefits.
Oats for good night sleep
Looking for a natural sleep aid? Grab a bowl of porridge oats before bedtime. Eating approximately 100 grams of porridge oats can raise sleep-inducing melatonin levels in our blood high enough to help us drift off. As a bonus, oats are rich in beta glucans which are scientifically proven to reduce cholesterol and help regulate blood sugar.