For many, winter is a season of family gatherings, charity, and snow angels. But others experience low moods, and even mild depression during this time of year. Scant sunlight, less time spent outside, and holiday stress are all main ingredients in the recipe for winter blues. Fortunately, you can combat seasonal lows with recipes that incorporate foods which aid in your body’s production of serotonin, a major mood-regulating neurotransmitter. Turn your meals into mood-boosters, and fight off the sadness that often accompanies chilly temperatures.
1. Salmon – Salmon is a powerhouse in the fight against depression. A fillet of salmon delivers substantial portions of vitamins D and B12, as well as a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients all play a role in the production of serotonin. Eat a piece of salmon two to three times per week. It can be delicious whether grilled, pan-fried or baked. Lemon juice and capers are two perfect accompaniments that make a quick, easy meal.
2. Pumpkin Seeds – Magnesium is another nutrient integral to maintaining healthy serotonin levels, and pumpkin seeds are loaded with it. A quarter cup of pumpkin seeds contains almost 50% of your daily recommended value of magnesium. Pumpkin seeds are an easy and convenient snack food. Eat a handful, or add them to your baked goods and cereals.
3. Oatmeal – Substituting complex carbohydrates, in place of refined sugars in your diet, may help maintain levels of serotonin. Oatmeal is a preferred breakfast food for many, because it digests slowly, giving you long-lasting fuel to burn throughout the morning. And as a bonus, its fiber content contributes to heart health. Flavor your oatmeal to suit your tastes, by using it as a vehicle for other nutrient-packed foods, such as fresh fruits, seeds and nuts.
4. Spinach – Vitamins B12, B6, and B9 (folate) are excellent weapons to keep in your mood regulation arsenal. Spinach allows you a healthy dose of these three, all at once. Spinach is one of the more accessible leafy green vegetables. It can be used in salads, pasta dishes, omelets, and even blended up into smoothies. Try baby spinach for a milder flavor.
5. Bell Peppers – Vitamin C helps to ensure that L-tryptophan is metabolized properly into serotonin. Bell peppers contain more vitamin C than oranges and are easily accessible year-round. They’re perfect in stir-fries, omelets, salads, sandwiches and rice dishes. You can also snack on sliced peppers with a healthy dip.
Try incorporating these ingredients into your daily diet, and combine that healthy diet with a regular exercise routine. Your diet and fitness routines are important tools in combatting seasonal mood disorders.
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