If you have ever found bliss in chocolate or smiled when someone offered you some french fries, then you know food can make you happy.
But while your favourite treat may give you a brief emotional lift, sustained mood-boosting brain power can come only from a consistent supply of nutritious foods.
Researchers are taking a closer look at how food can impact mood and have found that what you eat does make a difference.
Nourishing foods can feed the brain a combination of nutrients which helps boost serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for happiness and well-being. Here are some brain-healthy foods:
People who eat fish rich in omega-3 tend to have a lower risk of depression and a more positive affect, which is defined as how much you experience positive moods and feel joy. Salmon also contains vitamin B-12, which helps produce brain chemicals that affect mood.
People who take probiotics see improvements in their perceived levels of stress and have a more positive mental outlook, compared to those not taking them.
Spinach and other dark leafy greens contain magnesium, which can positively impact serotonin levels and boost your mood.
With a high content of antioxidants known as flavonoids, blueberries help activate brain pathways associated with better cognition and less cellular ageing. Blueberries and blueberry juice are associated with having a more positive mood.
This seafood delicacy is high in zinc, a mineral that is not stored by the body and must be consumed daily. Being deficient in zinc is linked to depression. Other good sources of zinc include crab, beef, beans, chickpeas and cashews.
Results from systematic reviews indicate that cocoa can shake off bad moods and may protect against depression. Sipping antioxidant- rich hot cocoa increases feelings of contentment and puts people in a happy mood.
But too much sugar is negatively associated with brain health, so choose dark chocolate and keep portions to a square or two a day.