Food and its nutrients can have a big impact on our mood. If you're feeling down, simple use this guide to mood-boosting foods and reap the all-round benefits:
1. Curly kale - Steam some baby-leaf curly kale for a helping of mood-balancing calcium. One vegetable portion (four heaped tablespoons) provides 24 per cent of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) and it's also packed with vitamin C and other antioxidants, including lutein.
2. Rice pudding - Essential for healthy nerve function, a good calcium status helps keeps mood balanced and limits the discomfort of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
3. Chillis - The natural compound capsaicin gives chillis their fire and triggers the brain to release feel-good neurotransmitters known as endorphins. Cilli may also improve sleep any daytime alertness. You need to eat 15g (that's one fresh green or red chili) daily.
4. Brazil nuts or crab - They are rich in mood-managing selenium, also found in fish, sunflower seeds, other nuts, meat, eggs and while grains. Studies link lower selenium intakes with a higher risk of depression and mood upsets. Women need 60mcg daily - finds in a handful of Brazil nuts or in 70g cooked crab.
5. Walnuts - Walnuts, linseeds and pumpkin seeds are best for omega-3s and monounsaturated fats, crucial for brain cell health and neuron communication. Nuts and seeds also pack in neurotransmitter building blocks selenium, magnesium, folic acid, iron and zinc. Top up intakes with a tablespoon or small handful as a snack, or sprinkle on porridge, yogurt, rice dishes or mixed leaf salads.
6. Porridge - It's good for Zen-like calm in the mornings, with its blood-sugar-stabilizing low-glycogenic index. The more steady the rise in blood glucose, the more stabile your mood is likely to be.
7. Tuna - It contains vitamin D, which helps with easing seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a severe form of winter blues.
8. Honey - Fructose, the main sugar in honey, helps the body break down alcohol faster and reduce the hangover effects caused by alcohol-induced low blood-sugar levels. Two tablespoons of fructose-rich honey are recommended, on a slice of toast or in your porridge.
9. Asparagus - As a good starter or light lunch, it contains folic acid. Low blood levels of folic acid are linked to depressive disorders; it's needed for normal nerve function and make serotonin and dopamine. It's also essential for healthy red blood cells, so preventing mood and energy-sapping anemia.
10. Brown rice - Like other healthy wholegrain, brown rice not only adds mood-friendly G vitamins, including B6, to your diet - its special contribution is the neurotransmitter gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA), which has a calming effect on the nervous system. Brown rice also contains the amino acid glutamic acid, which the body uses to make GABA with the help of vitamin B6. Enjoy its nutty flavor in salads, stir-fries as a side dish.
11. Roast venison - Boost your iron intake with roast venison. A typical 120g serving provides 44 per cent of the RDA and a tiny 3g fat, plus plenty of protein and nervous system-maintaining B vitamins. One in four of us are at risk of iron deficiency, a cause of irritability, poor concentration and fatigue. Non-meat eaters can find iron in fortified cereals, pulses, nuts, leafy greens and dried figs. Protein provides tyrosine, a building block for the alertness neurotransmitters dopamine and nor adrenaline.
12. Minestrone - Whether homemade or brought fresh from your local store, antioxidant-packed low-GI minestrone soup is ideal for keeping your appetite and blood-sugar levels in check and combating carbohydrate cravings that come with the winter blues.
13. Chocolate - It's the most popular mood-boosting food. The intense pleasure it gives comes from the stimulation of opioid neurotransmitters. Choose dark choc for a serious dose of antioxidants and 15 per cent of the RDA of copper, which helps build dopamine.
14. Mackerel - studies link low intakes of fish and long-chain omega-3 fats with a higher risk of depression, including post-natal. These omega-3 fats may help optimize brain cell communication and blood flow, and reduce inflammation, buffering the brain against low mood. While oily fish, such as mackerel, salmon, trout, pilchards, herring and fresh tuna, are the richest sources, prawns, crab and lobster pack them in too.
15. Seaweed - treat yourself to some sushi rolls and enjoy a helping of Nori - their wrapping of sheets of seaweed. Seaweed is rich in iodine and selenium, which work together to keep your thyroid hormones, metabolism and mood in peak condition.
16. Bananas - This fruit provides 11 per cent of our RDA for magnesium and 14 per cent of the RDA for vitamin B6, which converts tyrosine into dopamine and noradrenalin. They also give us energizing carbohydrate. All this virtually fat-free happiness for just 95 calories.
17. Peanut Butter - This ultimate comfort food brims with magnesium needed for normal brain function.
18. Watercress mash - It's warming, filling and rich in vitamin C and folic acid, both essential for building mood-regulating neurotransmitters. This wonderful mash also packs in healthy carbohydrate, the brain's favorite fuel. To serve four, use two x 85g bags of watercress, 675g potatoes, plenty of black pepper, and a little low-fat milk. Adding a tablespoon of capers makes it an ideal partner for fish.
19. Eggs - Feeling fuddled and forgetful can easily trigger us into a bad mood. Eggs are a great source of chlorine, a building block of brain tissue, and the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is important for memory and general mental functioning. One egg provides a quarter of the suggested daily intake, and also serves up your daily needs for vitamin B12, which works with folic acid.
Although this is not the end all and be all of feel-good guides should tackle one area at a time - foods, diet, exercise and gradually adapt yourself to the changes. Our new website contains everything you need to help you feel good including health and beauty tips