Healthy Seasonal Foods to Boost Your Mood

The days are decidedly shorter, and with colder temperatures and fewer daylight hours, it may be harder to get a consistent dose of vitamin D.  But certain foods can help fight the winter blues and boost your mood throughout the cooler months. 

To help fight seasonal depression and support your immune system, it’s important to eat a healthy diet consistently.  Although there are many treats to taste during the holiday season,  eating nutritious foods can help reduce the risk for depression.  Sugar, salt, and fatty foods may taste great but they only provide temporary relief of stress or boredom and can then cause your mood to crash quickly. 

According to a recent Everyday Health post, research has found that people who consumed a diet high in soda, artificial juice, and other poor-quality foods were 39 percent more likely to experience depressive episodes than those who ate a nutrient-rich, healthy diet.   Healthy foods also help keep the brain functioning optimally with key nutrients like B vitamins, folate, and magnesium. 

Diet can also affect serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood.  A lack of serotonin may contribute to depression or irritability.  Steering clear of junk foods and focusing on eating plenty of seasonal whole foods like fruits and vegetables, fish, nuts, and legumes can not only promote physical well-being but also good mental health.  

Top Fall Foods for Brain Health

  • Brussels sprouts – high in folate, a natural mood booster
  • Pomegranates – rich in antioxidants to reduce inflammation
  • Pumpkin – high in magnesium – linked with lower rates of depression
  • Sweet Potatoes – rich in vitamin C to reduce inflammation and prevent depression
  • Winter Squash – high in vitamin B6 to positively affect mood

If you do need a little something sweet, try opting for a piece of dark chocolate that is high in antioxidants. Keep track of how much alcohol you consume. One drink per day for women and no more than two per day for men.  

Here’s a healthy fall recipe for Pumpkin Ricotta Stuffed Shells to get you started – comfort food rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.