Give your body a boost with these foods during the winter months
by Laura Seldon for GalTime.com
It may be dark and cold outside, but that doesn't mean your mood can't be bright and warm. If you’re feeling beat down by winter’s dreary days and long nights, never fear! You can beat those winter blues by eating lots of greens -- and plenty of other foods in a vast array of colors. Here are ten yummy ways to boost your mind and stay positive through the end of winter’s coldest days.
1. Never Bean Better: Vegetarian Baked Beans
With their rich and complex flavor, vegetarian baked beans are a delicious way to boost your mood when the temperature drops. But why are they especially good for your mood in winter? Because they are full of magnesium.
“Magnesium helps your body cope with mood swings,” says Dr. Jacquie Lavin, Head of Nutrition and Research at Slimming World in the United Kingdom. “The best sources of magnesium include vegetarian baked beans, kidney beans and lentils.”
2. Get the Whole (Wheat) Picture: Whole Wheat Fettuccine
When you’re feeling dragged down by winter’s cold grasp, add a bowl of whole wheat fettuccine to your diet. Yes, carbs may be your enemy, but perhaps you should consider making them your friend – or, at the very least, your frenemy!
“I have been stressing for a long time that carbohydrates are not the enemy,” says health and wellness expert Diana Le Dean. “If eaten in the right portion, they don’t contribute to weight gain. In fact, they lift your mood and promote the production of serotonin which is the feel-good hormone.”
3. Go Fish: Salmon
From vitamin A to zinc, you could spell out the alphabet with the many nutrients found in oily fish (such as salmon, trout, swordfish and tuna). Take a bite and put a pep in your step.
“Foods rich in zinc, such as oily fish, can increase serotonin levels; a mood-boosting hormone,” says Megan Ware, RD, and CEO of Nutrition Awareness. Added benefit: salmon is also rich in Omega-3 fatty acids which are said to decrease the risk of stroke.
4. Give Your Diet the Green Light: Leafy Green Veggies
There’s nothing like some greens to cure the winter blues. Kale, spinach and collard greens are all great foods to boost your mood and lift your spirits.
“Greens are the number one missing food from the American diet,” says Lindsey Smith, health coach and author of Junk Foods & Junk Moods. “These are foods that will enhance your mood and make you feel good.”
5. Be a Health Nut : Walnuts
Here’s a nutty way to stop the February chill from driving you nuts: eat a handful of walnuts for your afternoon snack.
According to Smith, walnuts (along with most other nuts) contain L-Arginine, an amino acid that improves blood circulation.
“This can help make your head feel clear and can enhance your confidence level,” Smith notes. Something we all need during winter’s darkest hours.
6. How ‘Bout Them?: Apples
An apple a day keeps the blues at bay. Munch on one of the Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, or Fuji varieties for a fruity way to give yourself an instant jolt of energy.
“Apples are shown to be just as effective as having a cup of coffee in the morning,” says Smith. “When you hit the afternoon slump or need a quick boost in the morning, grab an apple and notice the difference!”
7. Holy Guacamole: Avocadoes
Sometimes all you need when you’re feeling anxious or down is a good night’s sleep. Interestingly enough, going for an extra helping of guac while you’re out for Taco Tuesday may be just what you need.
“Avocados are rich in copper which may help you get more sleep,” says Kristen Brown, author of The Happy Hour Effect: 12 Secrets to Minimize Stress & Maximize Life. “Sleep deprivation is a huge driver of winter blues, stress and moodiness.”
8. Blueberries, Raspberries, Strawberries, Oh My!: Berries
Give yourself a taste of summer with a handful of berries. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are all a great way to add a little color to your day if you get overwhelmed with winter’s grey skies.
“Those colorful berries are more than just pretty,” says Katherine Zeratsky a registered dietician at the Mayo Clinic. “They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. All of which will keep you running like a well-oiled machine without many of calories.”
9. Create a Stir: Hot Cocoa
Sweet, warm and oh-so-satisfying, a steaming cup of hot cocoa (made with low-fat milk and dark chocolate) is a surefire way to heat up your night, making you feel all hot… and not bothered.
Milk is a rich source of nutrients, including carbohydrates, protein, calcium, and vitamin D, Zeratsky explains.
“Our vitamin D levels tend to drop in the winter due to less sunshine exposure,” she says. “There is some literature that suggests that Vitamin D may play a role in improving depressive symptoms. Plus, dark chocolate not only tastes good, but it may also be good for your heart.”
10. Sow Your Wild Ones: Oatmeal
Winter's cold mornings demand a hot and satisfying breakfast. Give your morning a warm welcome with a big bowl of oats.
According to Mayling Kajiya, a nutrition expert and the founder of Girl Uninterrupted, oats are high in natural “happy mood” enhancers because they include L-Tryptophan, an essential amino acid.
“Prepare it with almond milk and dates for a healthy, mood-enhancing start to your day,” says Kajiya. “This treat is great for keeping the winter blues away and keeping your mind focused on the spring ahead.”
What foods give you a boost during the cold-weather months?
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