If you're looking for a seriously happy meal, grab a fork and pile your plate with these feel-good foods.
What we eat doesn't just impact our bodies. Food can also shape the way we feel through combinations of vitamins and minerals, especially those that produce serotonin – a neurotransmitter linked to mood. The secret to staying happy may be to hit up on foods that pack a punch of serotonin and other happiness creating chemicals. Let's check out some of the best.
Salmon – the super fish
Let's face it, any fish that willingly swims upstream to start a family has to feel good about itself. Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which scientists believe assist our brains to regulate mood. Salmon isn't the only fish with high concentrations of omega-3 – budget-friendly alternatives include herring, mackerel, anchovies and sardines.
Wholegrain pasta to feel a whole lot better
If you've sworn off pasta because of the carbohydrate content, you could be denying yourself a darn good smile. Carbohydrates are believed to increase those smile-delivering serotonin levels, and by consuming wholemeal pasta, you're adding fibre to the mix, which keeps your digestive system happy too.
Top up with tyrosine
Never heard of tyrosine? It's the body's equivalent of smile juice. More precisely, tyrosine is an amino acid that encourages your brain to release dopamine - a neurotransmitter that helps to control the brain's reward and pleasure centres. Tyrosine-rich foods include almonds, avocados, bananas and sesame seeds – hoe in for an extra serve of happiness.
Think orange for optimism
Carrots, sweet potatoes and pumpkin all share a rich orange colour. That's because they're packed with carotenoids - antioxidants that produce those bright pigments. Carotenoids help with insulin regulation, and that means avoiding irritability caused by a sugar-low. But here's the big news. A recent study found optimists eat more carotenoids than people with a negative attitude. Eat up. Enjoy. Smile.
Brown rice – big on B's
Brown rice is a vastly better choice than it's more processed cousin white rice. Along with fibre and selenium, brown rice packs a might punch of niacin (vitamin B3), which aids in the production of stress hormones, helping you chill and smile rather than stress out.
Spinach – take a leaf out of Popeye's recipe book
There's a lot to love about spinach. It's packed with vitamins including magnesium, which can assist with our sleep cycle (and there's nothing like a good night's to deliver a morning smile). Even better, spinach is extremely easy to grow at home – even in an apartment planter box, so you can always have a few fresh leaves on hand.
Your favourite feel good food
Food is a powerful force in our lives. Sometimes the aroma of a lamb roast, the taste of Christmas pudding or a gelato shared with the kids in summer can be all it takes to sending us smiling. Treat yourself from time to time to the comfort food that's special for you and let your taste buds bring the good times –and the smiles, back to life.
What foods make you smile? Share our blog on Facebook and Twitter and let others join the conversation.