The “Happy Handful” of nuts and seeds is an easy and delicious way to shape up and feel fantastic. A handful a day keeps your sadness away. However, the happiness diet is not a one-week project, it’s a lifestyle.
Make your “Happy Handful” snack mix
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends 1.5oz of nuts per day for an adult (or 42 grams, or roughly 1/3 cup, or a small handful).
- Brazil Nuts – 100g (3.5oz) – 7-day supply, 3-4 nuts per day (1 Brazil nut = 5g)
- Cashews – 100g (3.5oz) – 7-day supply, 14g or 0.5oz per day (5 nuts)
- Pistachios – 100g (3.5oz) – 7-day supply, 14g or 0.5oz per day (15 kernels)
- Pumpkin Seeds – 100g (3.5oz) – 7-day supply, 1 tablespoon per day (or 14g, or 0.5oz)
- Sunflower Seeds – 100g (3.5oz) – 7-day supply, 1 tablespoon per day (or 14g, or 0.5oz)
Why this easy daily snack of nuts and seeds can make you happier?
There are many things that can make you happy – family, the work you like, travelling, money… But about 70% of your personal happiness is at the end of your fork. Food is directly linked to your brain which creates your “state of happiness”. There are four major “hormones of happiness” – DOSE: Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphins.
Dopamine is a natural opioid drug that our brain injects into the nervous system to ease the pain. The effects of drugs such as cocaine, nicotine or amphetamines are, directly or indirectly, related to an increase of dopamine levels in the brain. But you shouldn’t be a drug addict to boost your dopamine level. You can do it naturally. Since dopamine is synthesized from tyrosine, an amino acid, you can simply eat foods rich in tyrosine – the best injection of the “hormone of happiness”.
Oxytocin is sometimes called the cuddle hormone because it is released through closeness with another person. But it is not necessarily to hug somebody (especially a beautiful stranger); it can also be triggered through social bonding, like eye contact or a love letter.
If you are in a good mood, you’ve got serotonin to thank; if not – you’ve got serotonin to blame. The major amount of serotonin exists in the intestine, and is governed by your state of hunger. Feel happier after lunch? That’s why. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid and biochemical precursor for serotonin. It cannot be produced in our body and must be part of our daily diet. Serotonin is primarily found in the gastrointestinal tract – about 90% of the human body’s total serotonin is located there. Serotonin also has some cognitive functions, including memory and learning.
Endorphins are our internal opioids – “endogenous morphine” that are produced by the central nervous system and the pituitary gland. Endorphins help relieve pain and induce feelings of pleasure or euphoria. They are released during periods of strenuous exercise, emotional stress and orgasm. Endorphins are neuropeptides and like other proteins, they are synthesized from amino acids. Food does not supply our body with ready-made endorphins; it helps to produce them by providing with amino acids, energy, minerals and vitamins that are required for the endorphin synthesis.
Nutrients essential for happier you
Percent Daily Value (%DV) per 30g (or about 1 ounce)
- Zinc and selenium increase “happy hormones” production: Those minerals have been scientifically proven to prevent depression and anxiety. Zink plays a crucial role in the synthesis of serotonin, one of four hormones of happiness. Researchers from the University of Barcelona found that people had higher levels of serotonin metabolites after nut consumption.
- Amino acid tryptophan is a biochemical precursor for serotonin, which is a well-known hormone of happiness. Serotonin produces your happiness, and tryptophan produces serotonin. The recommended daily intake for tryptophan is 4mg per kilogram of body weight: a person weighing 70kg (about 154 pounds) should consume approximately 280mg of tryptophan per day.
- Amino acid tyrosine is required for dopamine production. Although dopamine is found in many types of food, it is incapable of crossing the blood–brain barrier that surrounds and protects the brain. Therefore, it must be synthesized inside the brain from tyrosine. The recommended daily intake for phenylalanine and tyrosine is 25mg per kilogram of body weight, or 11mg per pound.
- B Vitamins have been called the “happy vitamins” or “anti-stress vitamins” because they can improve your mood and increase your tolerance to stress. B6 is crucial for dopamine and serotonin production. B9 strengthens memory and concentration while preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
- Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6): B6 can help the body manufacture neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, which aids in the body’s ability to cope with depression, stress and anxiety. B6 may also help boost the immune system during times of anxiety.
Nutrients these nuts and seeds are good for
Percent Daily Value (%DV) per 30g (or about 1 ounce)
BRAZIL NUTS for selenium – 770%DV (SUPER RICH), thiamine (vitamin B1) – 19%DV, magnesium – 35%DV, manganese – 25%DV, phosphorus – 35%DV
CASHEWS for riboflavin (vitamin B2) – 28%DV, vitamin E – 58%DV, copper – 37%DV, iron – 17%DV, magnesium – 25%DV, manganese – 31%DV, phosphorus – 28%DV, zinc – 20%DV
PISTACHIOS for thiamine (vitamin B1) – 25%DV, vitamin B6 – 43%DV, manganese – 65%DV, phosphorus – 23%DV
PUMPKIN SEEDS for amino acid arginine – 2g/oz, amino acid tryptophan – 161mg/oz (28g) or 58%DV (the best source of tryptophan ever), iron – 20%DV, magnesium – 51%DV, manganese – 70%DV, phosphorus – 56%DV, zinc – 27%DV (one of the best sources of zinc)
SUNFLOWER SEEDS for thiamine (vitamin B1) – 48%DV, niacin (vitamin B3) – 19%DV, folate (vitamin B9) – 19%DV, vitamin E – 78%DV, magnesium – 30%DV, manganese – 31%DV, phosphorus – 31%DV
**Values and percentages are based on the USDA Nutrient Database https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list
**Values and percentages are approximate based on the USDA Nutrient Database
**Percent Daily Value (%DV) is a guide to the nutrients in one serving of food. For example, 40% for protein means that one serving provides 40% of the protein you need each day. It helps you make informed food choices. DVs are based on a 2,000-calorie diet for healthy adults.