Before you grab for the biscuit tin to cheer yourself up, consider the following.

A diet with good levels of protein, beneficial fats and complex carbohydrates such as vegetables and whole grains contain all the nutrients we need to feel good and be happy!

To make the hormone serotonin which lifts mood, we need to have good levels of tryptophan. This is an amino acid found in protein containing foods, such as whey protein, salmon, eggs, oats and asparagus all listed in my top 8  foods that improve your mood. In addition vitamins and minerals found in the other foods are needed to convert tryptophan to serotonin.

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1. Whey protein

Is excellent for controlling blood sugar levels by keeping you full for longer[1], this avoids the sugar dips which can leave you tired and grumpy. Whey protein in powder form can be used in smoothies for a quick breakfast, lunch or snack. Try adding to homemade soups or your own flapjacks along with healthy nuts and seeds.

2. Salmon

Is rich in omega 3 oils and is one of the few foods that contain vitamin D, essential for good health. Omega 3 oils appear to promote mood enhancing effects through influence on the way the brain functions. So try to include this or other sources of oily fish such as mackerel, sardines and prawns twice a week. [2]

3. Eggs

They are high in thyroid and energy supporting vitamins and minerals such as b vitamins, selenium and iodine. A really good source of protein and no longer believed to be linked to high cholesterol levels. Poached, boiled, omelette or scrambled all will keep you full and feeling cheerier.

4. Asparagus

Asparagus not only has good levels of tryptophan but also has all the nutrients needed to turn it into serotonin. It’s full of antioxidants believed to protect our cells from damage and low in calories! Snap off stems at the bottom to remove the woody ends, sprinkle with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon and lightly grill.

8 great foods that will improve your mood2

5. Oats

There are slow releasing carbohydrates which can make a great breakfast as porridge, muesli or for those short on time flapjacks with lots of nuts, seeds or whey protein added. High in energy supporting vitamin B1!

6. Seeds

There are full of vitality boosting, mood supporting nutrients such as magnesium, zinc and folate. They are a quick easy way to improve nutrient levels of salads and breakfast oats. They can be ground and added to smoothies or eaten with a few nuts as a stop gap between meals.

7. Chocolate 

It appears to improve mood, how this occurs is not certain. It may be chemicals which affect the brain or pleasure induced from taste, maybe both. However the high sugar content of milk chocolate or eating excess may interfere with blood glucose regulation, leaving you weary and irritable later. Stick to high cocoa, darker chocolate and you’ll gain more benefits from the health promoting flavanols it contains.[3]

8. Tea

(not strictly a food but worth a mention) Especially green and white tea. These contain high levels of a chemical called L-Theanine, believed to increase relaxation and mood. Results of a 6 week study also indicated a reduction in a hormone called cortisol which increases when we are stressed.[4] It’s also a great way to stay hydrated which can also improve the way you feel. [5]

Including these foods within your diet, making sure you eat at regular intervals. A protein rich breakfast and lunch and a few more complex carbs at dinner. May work do wonders for your general mood and wellbeing.

For lots of ideas on healthy eating and delicious recipes’ visit http://www.whfoods.com

[1] Zafar, T. et al (2013) Whey protein sweetened beverages reduce glycemic and appetite responses and food intake in young females. Nutrition Research Reviews 33(4):303-10

[2] Su, Kuan-Pin (2009) Biological Mechanism of Antidepressant Effect of Omega-3 Fatty Acids: how Does Fish Oil Act as a ‘Mind-Body Interface’? Neurosignals 17:144-152

[3]Scholey, A. Owen, L (2013)Effects of chocolate on cognitive function and mood: a systematic review. Nutrition reviews 71 (10) 665-81

[4]Cooper, R. (2012) Green tea and theanine: health benefits. International journal of food sciences and nutrition

[5] Woman, Y. et al (2012) Mild Dehydration Affects Mood in Healthy, Journal of Nutrition.142 382-388

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