Friday, 28 December 2018

Banish Winter Blues With These 12 Foods

When the weather outside is frightful, our moods sometimes take a hit. Fortunately, a few simple tweaks to your diet might be able to lift your spirits. Here are 12 foods that can help you banish the winter blues.


Winter can have many of us feeling stressed and exhausted. The cold, the lack of sunlight, the busy holidays — it all adds up. And that’s where berries come into play. “Blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries may help prevent the release of cortisol, a hormone produced by the adrenal gland,” according to Healthline. Plus, their antioxidants can help lower inflammation in your body and boost your immune system, which also might perk you up.


Research has suggested foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as walnuts, have the ability to boost your mood. “Omega-3s can easily travel through the brain cell membrane and interact with mood-related molecules inside the brain,” according to Harvard Medical School. “They also have anti-inflammatory actions that may help relieve depression.” More studies still must be done on the topic. But along with all the other health benefits walnuts pack, it’s a pretty compelling reason to add a handful to snack time.


What goes great with walnuts and berries? Oatmeal. For a delicious, uplifting meal, cook up a warm bowl of oatmeal. Oats’ low glycemic index helps to keep your blood sugar stable, and their fiber increases your feeling of fullness — both of which can allow you to go about your day more comfortably. 


Dark, leafy greens are the ticket to combating numerous health issues. And thanks to greens’ high level of folic acid, they might be able to boost your mood, too. “There’s some evidence that the body uses [folic acid] to create serotonin — a neurotransmitter that affects mood — but there’s no conclusive evidence as to how it works,” according to Healthline. Regardless, there are many reasons to feel good about this healthy addition to your diet.


If you’re not getting enough vitamin D from sunshine during the winter months, your mood might experience a corresponding drop. But you can supplement it in your diet with several foods, including mushrooms. Besides being high in vitamin D, mushrooms also can strengthen your immune system, aid digestion, lower your cancer risk and improve heart health. That should have your body feeling pretty happy.


Everyone’s favorite green toast-topper wants to put a smile on your face, too. Avocadosare a nutrient-dense food. In particular, they contain vitamin B6, which your body uses to produce the mood-regulating hormone serotonin. They also have plenty of healthy fats and fiber, which help to increase fullness and stabilize blood sugar.


Lentils are an excellent meat alternative, packed with protein and iron. And like other legumes, their nutrient content also helps your body to produce serotonin. Plus, they’re rich in polyphenols, which “are known to have strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects,” according to Healthline. And their high fiber content keeps your stomach happy for longer.


Quinoa has become a word everyone finally knows how to pronounce, for good reason. This popular healthy grain (though some call it a seed) is high in protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals — especially the B vitamins that aid serotonin production. Plus, it has high amounts of certain flavonoids that “have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-cancer and anti-depressant effects in animal studies,” according to Healthline.


The probiotics in fermented foods — such as kimchi and kombucha — make for a healthy gut. And they also might contribute to a healthy mood. According to an article published in the journal Preventive Nutrition and Food Science, studies have found “probiotic-rich diets … showed positive effects on stress relief and memory enhancement, potentially via gut microbiota improvement.” They also have shown promise in combating depression and anxiety, but the research in this area is still preliminary.


There are several ways a banana might benefit your mood. For one, they contain the amino acid tryptophan, which works to relax the body. The sugars and potassium in bananas help to give you energy. Plus, they’re high in magnesium, which is important for brain function and mood. In fact, some research has linked low levels of magnesium to a higher risk of depression, according to Healthline.


Pumpkin seeds are a small, but mighty food, packed with several key nutrients. They’re full of antioxidants, which can reduce inflammation and improve overall health. Plus, similar to bananas, pumpkin seeds are very high in magnesium and contain tryptophan. They also have a substantial amount of zinc, which researchers have pointed to for its positive influence on mental health.


The winter blues are no match for a piece of high-quality dark chocolate. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, eating dark chocolate can reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body. It also can lower blood pressure, boost the immune system and improve brain function. So go ahead and feel good about indulging your chocolate cravings.

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