Did you know food impacts your mood? While food is good for nourishing our bodies, it can also greatly impact our appetite and mood. There is a lot of research that shows that certain foods we consume can greatly affect mood-modifying brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters, which are often referred to as the body’s chemical messengers. This is why it’s so imperative that we consume the right foods, especially if you suffer from the winter blues. Winter blues is not a medical diagnosis but a general term, says Dr. Matthew Rudorfer, a mental health expert at News in Health. Generally, the winter blues are linked to things like stressful holidays or reminders of absent loved ones. It’s incredibly important to eat the right foods that support a healthy immune system during the winter months to pull ourselves out of this dark, mental space. Here are seven foods to eat when you have the winter blues.
Research has found that nuts can improve the winter blues. They are powerhouses of nutrients and energy. They are also full of heart-healthy fats and proteins. Another great thing about nuts is that they can improve heart health, which leads to a healthy brain. They can help improve cognition, which helps prevent neurodegenerative diseases. Other studies have found that those who ate nuts over several years had sharper memories. The vitamin E in nuts helps shield cell membranes from radical damage, which can slow health decline. Nuts don’t just improve our physical health, but it can also improve our brain health.
Low-Fat or Nonfat Yogurt
One of the great benefits of consuming low-fat or nonfat yogurt is that it can help your gut stay healthy. Yogurt contains live bacteria cultures, which helps with gut health. The varying textures of yogurt can make it a fan favorite. If you like a thicker, custard-like taste, try Greek yogurt. You can also use it as a dip for fruits and vegetables, or simply eat it plain. One of the wonderful things about yogurt is the fact that it contains calcium, protein, and vitamin D. One cup of yogurt a day equals one serving. Start by reading labels and choosing a yogurt that has little to no added sugars. You can also top your yogurt with cinnamon and fresh fruits for additional antioxidants and taste.
Many of us know that turkey contains the amino acid known as tryptophan and also melatonin. Both of these chemicals make you feel calm and relaxed. When you tap into turkey's calming effects, it becomes a very natural way to deal with stressful situations. So during your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, feel good about piling the turkey on to your plate. You will feel much better after eating it. Another food that has similar effects is bananas. Similar to turkey, bananas also contain tryptophan. They are also rich in carbohydrates from natural sugars and potassium, which help fuel the brain, Healthline reports. The magnesium that is found in bananas can help reduce anxiety and improve sleep, which are two big systems of seasonal depression. Try these stress-relieving foods to curve the winter blues.
Dark Green Leafy VegetablesDark green leafy vegetables are key in decreasing seasonal affective disorder symptoms, helping boost your mood. Some of these vegetables include collard greens, turnip greens, spinach, and mustard greens. Each of these is seasonally available. Another great thing about greens is that they are nutrient-dense, which means they are low in calories and high in nutrients. A great way to consume these vegetables is by steaming the greens. Also consider serving with a teaspoon of olive oil drizzled over the top, balsamic vinegar, and pepper. Another way to prepare is to stir-fry or braise them. If you want to jazz your greens up, consider adding garlic, capers, red or white wine vinegar, and lemon.
If you have a sweet tooth, you may already be a fan of dark chocolate. What you may not know is that dark chocolate and cocoa powder are rich in several brain-boosting compounds. This includes but is not limited to flavonoids, antioxidants, and caffeine. If you’ve never heard of flavonoids, you are not alone. They are a group of antioxidant plant compounds, specifically found in chocolate, that deal with mood and brain enhancement. Like some of the other foods on this list, they can also enhance memory and improve age-related mental decline. One of the greatest qualities of dark chocolate is the fact that it is a mood booster. In addition to the compounds found in dark chocolate, it also has one of the yummiest flavors, making people feel better overall.
Many of us are aware of the health benefits of eating fatty fish, but did you know that eating them could also help with your brain health? Some of the fish in this category include sardines, trout, and salmon. Another incredible thing about fatty fish is that it is a rich source of Omega-3s, another building block of the brain. Consuming Omega-3s not only sharpen your memory, but also improve your mood. Our brain uses them to build nerve cells, which are imperative for learning and keeping our mind from decline. In addition to boosting your mood, health experts recommend eating fatty fish to help combat the age-related mental decline, particularly degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.
Berries are rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants, which make for a healthy and tasty winter mix. Many studies show more benefits to eating foods that are rich in antioxidants over pills that are rich in antioxidants. The various colors in berries provide the vitamins and minerals we need for brain-boosting and good health overall. If you’re looking for a good berry, consider blueberries, which help activate brain pathways. Blueberry juice also helps with improving mood. Try choosing to eat two or more cups of berries or fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants each day. Be sure that these fruits and vegetables vary in color.
The foods that we put in our bodies greatly impact our mood. Eating just a few of these foods each day can shift you away from the winter blues, make a big difference in the way you feel and in your overall health. If you aren’t already doing it, try adding some of these foods to your diet today.