In Minnesota during the winter months, the cold and lack of sunshine contribute to low moods, and the more extreme condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is more common than we realize. The good news is that eating the right foods will help lift our emotions and our moods. Here are some of the key mood-regulating nutrients provided by a healthy diet:
Vitamin D plays a powerful role in regulating mood and staving off seasonal affective disorder. In Minnesota during the winter, there is not enough sun for our bodies to manufacture the vitamin D we need. To keep your spirits lifted through spring, consider taking a vitamin D3 supplement between October and May, and be sure to consume adequate vitamin D-rich foods, including fatty fish – salmon, tuna, mackerel, fortified milk and yogurt, eggs, and mushrooms. Try our Wild Rice, Mushroom and Egg Muffins to get more Vitamin D into your life.
Omega-3 fatty acids are powerful mood boosters that can help relieve symptoms of depression, in addition to improving heart health and combatting inflammation. Foods high in omega-3s include salmon, herring, anchovies, flaxseed, chia seed and walnuts.
B vitamins and folate play important roles in moderating mood; low levels are associated with depression. Good sources include vegetables, especially dark green vegetables, beans, nuts, fruit, and whole grains. In one study, as little as one cup of cooked, folate-rich spinach per day helped relieve minor depression.
Whole grains and colorful slow carbohydrates boost serotonin levels, which helps boost our moods. This includes foods like sweet potatoes and yams, oats, barley, farro, millet, quinoa, pumpkin, winter squash, rice, brown or wild, and spelt. Our Roasted Curried Sweet Potatoes are a great source of slow carbohydrates.
Much more information on the topic of foods and moods is available on our subscription resource and meal-planning website: www.smartnutrition.solutions.