If you’re sunseeker and love warm weather, it’s no surprise that the lack of sunshine, frosty weather and increased sickness during winter can understandably dampen your mood. In response to this, it’s not uncommon for us to seek out comfort foods to help us feel better… but this in fact can make matters worse. To help you stop falling into this trap this winter, here are the best foods to help you beat the winter blues.
As you are likely aware, legumes are a great source of plant-based protein. Protein provides essential amino acids, which play a critical role in production of neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters act as chemical messengers within the brain and are responsible for mood. There is ample evidence supporting a Mediterranean diet for improved mood which legumes form a large part of and should ideally be eaten three to four times a week for the most benefits. Examples of legumes include: chickpeas, lentils, red kidney beans, black beans, and cannellini beans.
Fibre rich fruit & vegetables
This should not come as a surprise, considering fruit and vegetables are not only great sources of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals but also fibre – all of which work together to support mood by reducing oxidative damage and inflammation in the body whilst supporting a healthy gut microbiotia. Load up your plate with vegetables at each meal or make a vegetable rich soup with cauliflower, broccoli or cabbage to have as a light meal, starter or snack. Pears and figs make a fantastic porridge topping in the cooler months, while cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage are great for stews, soups and warm salads.
The brain is approximately 60 per cent fat so it’s no wonder healthy fats and specifically, essential fatty acids, are critical for the proper functioning of the chemical messengers in our brain, and for controlling mood and emotions. To beat the blues this winter add a handful of omega-3 rich foods such as hemp seeds into soups, or sprinkled on to roast vegetables and stir-fries.
Saffron and Turmeric
Saffron may be most well known as a spice to flavour and colour food, but in fact, it has been traditionally used as a medicinal plant to promote health for a long time. Saffron has an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect on the body and preliminary research is showing its protective effects on mental health. Furthermore, turmeric, rich in the active compound curcumin, boasts similar antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and is believed to have similar effects. Both spices are the perfect addition to winter meals as they go very well in stews, curries and soups.
While you’re here, a dietitian explains your winter comfort food cravings, and these are the 5 winter weight loss tricks another dietitian swears by.
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