Eat yourself happy: meet our 6 good mood foods

As the days get shorter and darker, many of us may find the winter blues taking hold. But the good news is there are often ways to escape them: take a walk during your lunch break, enjoy a warm bubble bath after dinner, or maybe bake some cookies with loved ones. 

You can even find that good mood in snack form! That’s because many foods are known to lighten our mood, making them the perfect remedy when you can’t seem to find your usual pizazz. Here are our top 6 amazing happy foods that can help you put that spring back in your step.

1. Seeds and nuts, to boost your mood

Aside from their reputation as food for the nerves, these little wonders are rich in tryptophan, one of the essential amino acids our bodies can’t produce by themselves. Our bodies then convert this into the happiness hormone serotonin, which not only improves our mood, but also helps us sleep better. Those aren’t the only benefits – studies show just a handful of nuts a day can reduce the risk of heart disease, and cancer too [1]. With so many upsides, we can only advise you to give the meatballs a steer. Try going nuts (and seeds) instead.

2. Coffee and tea, for a morning lift

Here’s some wonderful news for the coffee junkies among us: caffeine has positive properties too! By boosting our metabolism, it stimulates both the central nervous system and the heart. That could be just the ticket if you suffer from low blood pressure and have a harder time getting going in the morning.

If you’d still rather avoid the coffee, then black or green tea share many of the same positive qualities, so make great alternatives. Studies have also revealed the wonders green tea can do for our mental health, by relieving stress and anxiety [2] [3].

3. Spinach and its dark green friends, for a good mood 

Popeye was fighting fit and full of beans for a reason: spinach (and many other dark green vegetables) are packed with vitamin B9, a folate, plus many other handy nutrients. By interfering with the production of serotonin and dopamine, folate deficiency is often linked with mood disorders or even depression. These green beauties contain a lot of iron too, needed for many neurological activities and to produce red blood cells. As if all that wasn’t enough, they’re also an important source of magnesium. Wow!

You’ll find them in the smoothies at every superfood store – and for good reason! They are the new immune system and beauty boosters: they also encourage beautiful skin and the famous super glow. Enough good reasons to include them in your nutrition plan, surely?

4. Fish, as a mood enhancer and source of vitamin D 

Salmon, in particular, is a great source of the omega-3 fatty acids that form part of the membranes around brain cells. It also packs a lot of vitamin D, which we lack, especially during the shorter, darker days. And it’s been proven to help counter anxiety disorders and depressive moods. 

Eating fish can even help prevent cancer. A study by Aberdeen University in Scotland found that omega-3 fatty acids increase our chances of surviving colon cancer. That’s because they release molecules that attack the cancer cells [4]. 

5. Berries, for antioxidants and vitamin C

Berries have many positive effects on our brain, and are even said to counteract age-related memory loss. Studies have shown that berries actually change the way neurons in our brain communicate with each other. These signal changes can help fine-tune our motor skills and perception. 

Berries are also full of the antioxidants that protect our cells from damage by free radicals [5]. Want more benefits? Ok, they’re rich in vitamin C, fibre and potassium, yet low in calories. That’s why you often rightly see them on porridges, muesli and the beautiful Instagram feeds of lifestyle and sports gurus. So remember: berry good!

6. Dark chocolate, one to fall in love with

When it comes to happy foods, your sweet tooth doesn’t have to miss out. No, it’s not for nothing that many of us turn to cookies and chocolate to lift our mood. And if we opt for dark chocolate with 70% or more cocoa content, we’re actually doing something good for ourselves. 

Aside from the antioxidants it contains, you can find 67% of the recommended daily amount of iron in a 100g bar of dark chocolate. It also contains phenylethylamine – the same chemical our brain produces when we fall in love.

But watch out: it’s no secret chocolate is also high in sugar and fat. So savour it in moderation, and wait for that warm and fuzzy feeling to take hold.

Our bonus tip

It takes more than proper nutrition to stay physically and mentally well – exercise is also vital to our wellbeing. And while we all know what sport can do for the body, it also works wonders for the mind and soul.The release of dopamine and serotonin helps us feel more balanced and relaxed. Regular exercise also increases our satisfaction with our lives, because when we manage to motivate ourselves to move, we immediately feel that little bit more successful. 

Integrating exercise into your day is easier than expected. How about starting with a quick lap around the block after lunch? And when it gets too cold outdoors, it’s easier than ever to enjoy a short but productive workout in the cosiness of your living room (or any other room, for that matter). Whether you go for a relaxing yoga session or a challenging cardio workout is up to you. The main thing is that you have fun and get those happiness hormones doing their merry dance!



[1] de Souza, Rávila Graziany Machado et al. “Nuts and Human Health Outcomes: A Systematic Review.” Nutrients vol. 9,12 1311. 2 Dec. 2017.!po=2.17391 

[2] Lopes Sakamoto F, Metzker Pereira Ribeiro R, Amador Bueno A, Oliveira Santos H. “Psychotropic effects of L-theanine and its clinical properties: From the management of anxiety and stress to a potential use in schizophrenia.” Pharmacol Res. 2019

[3] Nobre AC, Rao A, Owen GN. “L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state.” Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008;17 Suppl 1:167-8.

[4] Eltweri AM et al. “Potential of fish oils rich in omega-3 poly-unsaturated fatty acids in the management of gastrointestinal cancer.” Clinical Nutrition 2017

[5] Speer, Hollie et al. “Anthocyanins and Human Health-A Focus on Oxidative Stress, Inflammation and Disease.” Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 9(5) 366. 28 Apr.

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