5 foods to make you feel happier

    Amanda Hamilton, broadcaster and nutritionist shares her five mood-boosting foods.

    “Certain mood-boosting foods have special qualities that can help lift our spirits, and without the need for the biscuit tin or a bottle of wine. Here are my five fab ingredients you can easily find in the supermarket that will help boost your happiness levels,” says TV nutritionist Amanda Hamilton.

    1. Almonds

    “Consuming ‘super nuts’ such as almonds helps boost serotonin, a neurotransmitter which heightens circulatory health and mood while decreasing appetite. Low levels of serotonin are believed by researchers to be a major contributor to anxiety and depression and just one ounce of mixed nuts a day helps increase levels.

    “Almonds also contain zinc, another key nutrient in maintaining a balanced mood. An average serving of around 100g contains several other essential minerals that we need in our daily diet, too.

    2. Coconut water

    “The coconut, known as ‘dew from the heavens’ in Hawaii, has enjoyed a huge rise in popularity. Luckily for fans of all things coconut, it is a multi-tasking ingredient in the mood stakes, too.

    “Coconut water is filled with electrolytes, making it isotonic (hydrating), and has been billed as a healthier alternative to sports drinks. Hydration is important for everyone – not just gym lovers – as even mild dehydration can alter a person’s mood, energy level and ability to think clearly.

    3. Coconut oil

    “The oil from coconuts is another mood food because of the special fats it contains, called medium chain triglycerides – MCTs.

    “This marvellous multi-tasking ingredient has been linked to relieving stress – some studies have shown it is as effective as Diazepam! This is possibly because of the concentration of vitamins, minerals and amino acids in both coconut oil and flesh. There has also been research that links MCT fats to the prevention of neurological diseases, and they have the potential to enhance mental performance, mood and concentration.

    4. Salmon

    “There’s a reason why oily fish is known as brain food. Salmon is packed full of omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, which provide a multitude of brain and mood supporting functions.

    “If you’re like most people in the UK, you probably consume plenty of omega-6 fats from plant-based cooking oils and not enough omega-3 fats from oily fish. In an ideal world we’d all consume oily fish two or three times a week (unless you’re pregnant). As with all things diet-related though, it’s all about balance.

    5. Oats

    “Nothing is more likely to make us grumpy and unable to focus than sleep deprivation. In the long term, sleep is critical to a long and healthy life. Eating more foods that naturally increase melatonin production — a hormone that helps control sleep cycles — can help us sleep more soundly, which in turn can boost our mood levels.

    “Jumbo oats are the best option and have a delicious, nutty flavour. If you’re not a fan of porridge, try soaking oats overnight in apple juice or water with dried fruit for added flavour and serve cold with grated apple and cinnamon. Or, have a late night snack of oatcakes with some chopped banana and a slither of nut butter.”

    Amanda Hamilton is a best-selling author, broadcaster and nutritionist. She runs nutrition clinics and detox retreats around Europe. Follow her @AmandaNourish