With the days becoming shorter and the weather colder, it’s not uncommon for people to start feeling emotionally drained. In fact, some 10 million Americans experience a subtype of depression known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) each year during the winter months, with symptoms including loss of focus, worsening moods, and trouble waking up.
The good news though is that eating certain foods can help you ease the negative feelings that may come with winter. Below, you’ll find 5 foods to help you beat the winter blues.
Folate-rich foods like lentils and leafy greens: Folate is a B-vitamin that is crucial for a number of bodily functions, including healthy cell growth and function. In a study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, scientists discovered that people with depression have lower levels of folate than individuals without depression. Fortunately, it’s easy to get your daily dose of folate. Leafy greens such as spinach and kale are loaded with folate. Lentils are as well. In fact, a cup of cooked lentils has about 358 mcg of folate, which is 90 percent of your daily value.
Fibrous foods, such as berries and whole grains: According to a 2020 study published in Nutrition Reviews, a high-fiber diet can potentially lower inflammation, which results in the alteration of neurotransmitter concentrations to reduce symptoms of depression. To get the fiber your body and brain needs, go for berries and whole-grain foods. A cup of raw raspberries will give you a whopping 8 grams of fiber, and whole grains such as oats and buckwheat are also rich in fiber. If you’re feeling snazzy, combine the two in a mixed berry smoothie.
Iron-rich foods, like cruciferous vegetables and soy: Dietary zinc and iron may be associated with a decreased risk of depression, according to a 2017 study published in Psychiatry Research. To get your dose of iron, as well as a boost of vitamin C, add cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower and broccoli to your diet. Tofu is also a good source as it contains around 3.4 mg of iron per half-cup serving, which is 19 percent of the daily value.
Nuts and seeds rich in omega-3 fatty acids: Like fiber, omega-3s are important for good mental health because they lower levels of inflammation. Flax seeds are the richest whole-food source of omega-3s, with about 2,350 mg per tablespoon, which is actually greater than the daily value. Walnuts, chia seeds, and hemp seeds are also rich in omega-3s.
Fermented foods filled with probiotics: Improving the composition of the gut microbiota with probiotics can produce beneficial effect on anxiety and depression. One key way to boost your gut microbiota is by eating fermented foods such as kimchi and tempeh, a fermented soybean product. These foods are rich in probiotics that add good bacteria to your gut, helping to boost body and brain health. Other fermented food items include kombucha, sauerkraut, and pickles.