There’s no mystery that shorter days, loss of light, colder temperatures, and any of the other hallmark winter experiences can give you a case of the ‘winter blues.’ Winter blues, or Seasonal Affective Disorder as many refer to it, is a very common human psychological reaction to the effects of winter—but don’t worry! There are some excellent nutritional steps you can take towards combatting a case of the winter blues, and some tasty ones at that.
High Fiber Foods
High-fiber carbohydrates that are found in whole grains can help assist your body in the production of the ‘feel good’ hormone serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical produced in your brain that works to regulate mood, cognition, memory, and numerous other bodily functions. Try eating foods such as sweet potatoes (with the skin on), whole grains, brown rice, and whole wheat pasta to encourage a boost in your serotonin production.
Proteins, namely protein that is low in fat, are important not only for heart health, but also assist in your digestive processes. Higher fat proteins, like ribs, sausage, or even salami, are much more difficult to digest and can make you feel sluggish. If you’re interested in adding some more low-fat proteins into your diet, check out products with lean beef, pork, fish, tofu, legumes (such as beans or lentils) and eggs. Perk yourself up with easily digestible proteins so that you can feel energy throughout the entire day.
Nuts, Fruits & Veggies
Nuts - Never forget about the essentials of nuts and fruits! Nuts pack an incredible amount of energy and nutrients for their size, and their certainly good for you! Nuts offer protein and heart-healthy fat, are attributed to lowering cholesterol, as well as a texture and taste that can spruce up a wide variety of dishes! Look for nuts or nut products with no added sugar, salt, or fat. Nuts can serve as an excellent energy booster throughout the day, or an exciting addition to a meal that could use some flare. If you’re interested in learning more about nuts, try shopping for almonds, pistachios, and walnuts as a sampler into the world of nuts. Each comes chocked-full of protein, healthy fats, and much more.
Fruits & Veggies - if you’re in need of vitamin C, A, fiber and a whole boatload of antioxidants, fruits and veggies are the way to go. Vitamin C is excellent for skin health, vitamin A is vital to vision and immune system support, and fiber aids digestive health. Fruits you can look for in-store are oranges and kiwis, two highly nutritious citrus fruits that are jam packed with vitamin C and antioxidants. For vegetables try out broccoli, potatoes, and peppers. If your body feels good, odds are you can fend off the winter blues too!
Studies have shown that diets that are high in vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to decreased depression and improved mood. Vitamin B12 is attributed to red blood cell formation, metabolism, and nerve function. Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids are excellent for your heart by curbing inflammation of blood vessels. You can find B12 and omega-3 in poultry, red meat, dairy, and most notably fish. While it’s never a good idea to only eat fish, fatty fish are treasure troves of vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty fish to look for in-store include salmon, tuna, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines.
Typically, when we think of chocolate, it isn’t necessarily thought of as ‘healthy’—but that’s not always the case! Dark chocolate is an excellent source of disease-fighting antioxidants that are great for heart health. Many studies have indicated that quality dark chocolate (in moderation) can help reduce blood pressure and lower your risk of heart disease. Do note, that dark chocolate is still high in calories, and can lead to obesity, so moderation is always a must. When looking for the right kind of dark chocolate, aim for 70% or higher, low-processed and higher quality dark chocolate.
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