Food is very much about happiness and eating some foods can actually help to make us happier, according to Núria Granados who’s a doctor in Biochemistry and specialises in Personalised Nutrition & Nutrigenomics.
"Happiness is an emotion, a feeling of well-being that invades us when we have reached a desired goal,” she says. "Emotions are generated in the most primitive part of our brain, which is something we share with all mammals, even reptiles, the limbic system.
The neurons that constitute these structures communicate with each other through molecules called neurotransmitters and in the case of happiness, the main neurotransmitters involved are dopamine and serotonin.”
Dr Granados argues that "both of those are produced by our bodies from the amino acids, phenylalanine and tryptophan, which are in food."
Products that contain the highest amount of amino acids are; Nuts, such as almonds, pistachio nuts and cashews; Seeds, like sunflower, sesame, pumpkin and linen; Beans, such as soy and its derivatives, tofu, tempeh, yogurt, miso etc, as well as chickpeas, peanuts, oats and fish such as cod.
"For our body to be able to transform these amino acids into 'happiness molecules', other components are needed, such as Vitamin B6, which iso found in nuts, seeds, chickpeas, potatoes and garlic; Vitamin C, from oranges, strawberries, kiwi and peppers; and Iron from lentils and pinto beans, seeds and nuts,” she explains.
Other molecules that give us a sense of euphoria are endorphins, which are found in foods such as cocoa and spices.
"To pamper your brain it's important to eat ‘neuro-protective' foods which are high in antioxidants, like pomegranates, cranberries, bell peppers, tomatoes, and beets. Basically eat colour,” said Núria Granados who also points out that it’s also important to exercise and share meals.
The Spanish Actor, Producer and Director, Paco León once said, ”Happiness is to drink a glass of fresh water on a hot summer afternoon in Seville.”
Dr Granados agrees and says "cooking happiness is really not that complicated all you need in your pantry is nuts, legumes, seeds, vegetables, fruits of colour and water.”