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10 of the best mood boosting foods

Reviewed by our expert panel
Happy woman eating cereal with dog

What you eat — or don’t eat — can have a powerful impact on your mood. HFG dietitian Caroline Trickey looks at 10 of the best, science-backed foods to help boost your mood.

1 Yoghurt to keep your belly happy

The probiotics in yoghurt boost the health of good bacteria in your gut. Yoghurt is low GI too, which balances blood sugar levels to stop that ‘hangry’ feeling.

2 Fermented foods for better mood

Fermented foods such as sauerkraut also foster the richness and diversity of your ‘good’ gut bacteria – which can improve your sense of wellbeing.

3 Pearl barley to feed your gut bacteria

Pearl barley contains resistant starch, a type of fibre that your gut bacteria love to munch on. It’s low GI and incredibly filling.

4 Love your legumes

Lentils and other legumes boost the ‘happy’ hormone serotonin, so add them to your lunchtime soup or salad to help you breeze through 3:30itis.

5 Wild sardines for omega 3

Tinned wild sardines in springwater are an excellent, cost-effective source of mood-enhancing omega-3 fats – plus, they’re a sustainable fish!

6 Nuts for your nut

All nuts help boost brain function, memory and mood, but our pick of them is walnuts. Snack on a 30g handful – about ¼ cup – a day.

7 Give leeks a go

A special type of fibre called prebiotics found in leeks can positively influence your gut bacteria and mood. Try leeks in place of onions.

8 EVOO to stop you feeling blue

There’s a good reason why extra-virgin olive oil features heavily in the Mediterranean diet. It’s shown to significantly improve overall wellbeing and ease depression.

9 Dark chocolate, yes please!

This one is sure to make you smile. Dark chocolate has been shown to have mood-boosting effects, possibly due to its high antioxidant content.

10 Stay hydrated

Dehydration can affect your mood, your ability to concentrate and energy levels, so top up your fluids with a mug of antioxidant-rich herbal tea.

For more on food and mood read these:

How mood affects your health

Healthy gut, happy mind

Nutritional deficiency and mental health

First published: Sep 2020

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