Chocolate, coffee – and bananas are among the foods most likely to put you in a good mood, according to Brits.
A study of 2,000 adults found that while delicious sugary snacks feature in the top 20, nuts and seeds, berries and fish are also among the foods thought to give you a boost.
More than four in 10 have noticed how food affects their mood over the last few weeks, with 62 per cent citing it as one of the main things they choose to keep their spirits up at the moment.
Chocolate – milk and dark – has been named the food most likely to improve your mood, followed by coffee, ice cream, chocolate biscuits and cake.
Bananas, a cup of tea, berries and pizza completed the top 10.
The study, by Yakult, also found Brits are most likely to reach for a mood-boosting snack around mid-afternoon – to keep them going until the end of the day. Dietician Dr Megan Rossi, speaking on behalf of Yakult, said: “While understandably at this time it may seem challenging, finding ways to keep our spirits up is important for our overall health.
“There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that well-fed gut bacteria can positively impact our mood, thanks to the gut-brain axis – the two-way communication that occurs between our gut and brain.
“While many of us seem to be turning to milk chocolate as the top choice for boosting our mood, dark chocolate contains around 8 to 10g of fibre per 100g – making it high fibre, which is essentially food for our gut microbes, linked with better mental health.
“Omega-3, found in oily fish such as salmon and in plant sources like walnuts and flaxseed, has also been linked with improvement in mood disorders.
“So, although oily fish and walnuts don’t appear to be our go-to foods for a mood-boost based on the research by Yakult, they are certainly worth a thought next time people are picking up their groceries.”
The study also found 44 per cent of those polled are longing for more mood-boosting staples. But 36 per cent aren’t really sure what foods to turn to when they’re feeling unhappy. And only four of the top 10 foods selected by respondents as ‘mood-boosting’ are scientifically proven to contain vitamins, minerals and compounds that will positively impact mental health.
The study also revealed 39 per cent have their mood improved by home-cooked food, and nearly a quarter are buying more fresh fruit and vegetables than before. As adults look to shop responsibly, 28 per cent are now buying more ‘mood-boosting’ foods than ever before – with 49 per cent listing taste as the biggest priority when grocery shopping.
Away from the kitchen, 51 per cent of those polled, via OnePoll, are turning to walking to improve their mood, while others are reading (40 per cent) and watching TV and boxsets (41 per cent). Just under a quarter even feel the urge to spring clean to lift their spirits.
Emma Dita, from Yakult UK added: “Food is an essential part of our daily life and it is perhaps more important than ever to make sure it contributes to our overall wellbeing.
“There are scientific arguments to support the difference certain foods can make and as Yakult is a company with science at its core, dedicated to contributing to the health and wellness of people around the world, we wanted to open this conversation.
“With so many of us now spending longer than usual indoors, we can take comfort in knowing that we are still able to get the vitamins and minerals we need from foods.
“Products such as Yakult Light, enriched with vitamin D and E, along with 20 billion unique bacteria scientifically proven to reach the gut alive, can help us achieve 15 per cent our recommended daily intake of vitamin D.”
TOP 20 FOODS BRITS THINK HAVE THE BIGGEST IMPACT ON IMPROVING THEIR MOOD
1. Milk chocolate
2. Dark chocolate
4. Ice cream
5. Chocolate biscuits
12. Red wine
16. Nuts & Seeds
17. Oily fish (e.g. salmon)
19. Crisps and savoury snacks
DR MEGAN ROSSI’S TOP FIVE SMALL CHANGES TO BOOST YOUR MOOD
1. Load up on a variety of plant-based foods. Try to aim for 30 different types a week, across fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, legumes, nuts and seeds.
2. Fall in love with extra virgin olive oil and good sources of omega 3 such as fatty fish and walnuts. Studies show a Mediterranean diet very high in fibre, extra virgin olive oil as well as good sources of omega-3 is effective in improving depression scores.
3. De-stress with mindfulness. Try doing just 10 minutes a day of meditation or using a mindfulness app. Studies show a difference in 12 weeks.
4. Dabble in fermented foods. Vegetables, like pickles, kimchi and sauerkraut or fermented milk products can be tasty additions that, anecdotally, have been praised as mood boosting foods for centuries.
5. Get quality sleep. Feeling tired can have a big influence and improving sleep quality can boost your mood. Busy mind? Try jotting down any worries in a diary and unplugging from all forms of media at least two hours before bed.