While a lot of us love the cosier months, for many of us the darker days and freezing temperatures result in a case of winter blues, leaving us feeling sluggish, tired and a bit down. However, one way you can combat them is through a healthy diet rich in nutritious, mood boosting foods. But what counts as good mood food? Check out our guide to mood lifting food to keep you feeling your best self through these winter months!
Good Mood Food: 9 Foods to Beat the Winter Blues
1. Leafy Greens
Packed with vitamin C and antioxidants, leafy greens will help to increase your energy levels during the winter months when the cold weather and long nights can leave you feeling tired. Spinach in particular contains folate, which supports the production of dopamine – a neurotransmitter which has many important roles in the brain and body including regulating mood.
Other good options include brussels sprouts, watercress and kale – plenty of green goodness that can be easily incorporated into stir-frys, salads and even super green smoothies!
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Avocado is rich in vitamin B, which is essential for white blood cell production, helping your body fight infection. In addition, it’s rich in nutrients such as thiamin, and riboflavin which can help to reduce anxiety and relieve stress.
3. Organic Cacao
Cacao is a great low-sugar and dairy-free alternative to regular chocolate powder, making it a simple way to enjoy that delicious flavour whilst on a plant-based lifestyle. Cacao isn’t just a delicious ingredient – it’s a source of nutrients such as iron, magnesium and copper which contribute to normal energy-yielding metabolism.
Iron also plays a role in the normal function of the immune system and can help to reduce tiredness and fatigue – all helping to keep your energy up during the cold winter months. Cacao is also a source theobromine, a bitter alkaloid similar to caffeine, which is thought to boost energy levels and mood.
Mushrooms are rich in vitamin D, particularly Shiitake mushrooms. Not only is vitamin D good for lifting your mood, but it also supports your immune system too. If you aren’t a fan of mushrooms, you can take a convenient Vitamin D supplement which is an easy way to ensure you are getting enough vitamin D regularly.
5. Citrus Fruits
You can’t beat citrus fruits when it comes to natural mood boosters. Citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C which will help to support your immune system and increase energy levels. Plus, who can resist that zesty citrus scent for a pick-me-up? Try adding a slice of lemon to your water for a natural sweetener and fresh zingy taste.
Bananas are great for boosting serotonin – the “happy hormone” responsible for regulating mood. Bananas are also an excellent source of potassium, along with carbohydrates from natural sugars – important for supporting normal psychological function. Bananas also contain magnesium, which has been shown to improve sleep, and even reduce anxiety.2
Many fruits are an excellent source of fibre to keep your digestive system running smoothly, but berries in particular can have additional micronutrients which provide their own associated health benefits. Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries all help to reduce the release of cortisol – also known as the stress hormone!
Nuts are a great natural source of mono- and poly-unsaturated fats, fibre and protein. Brazil nuts contain B vitamins which contribute to the normal function of the immune system, as well as reducing tiredness and fatigue. Brazil nuts are also a good source of the essential mineral selenium which supports mental performance.
Walnuts contain plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, and have been associated with antidepressant properties making them a great addition to your daily snack routine.1
Almonds, like many other nuts, are a great source of magnesium which has been shown to play a role in lessening your risk of developing depression. Peanut Butter is an extremely versatile food that can be used in cooking, baking, smoothies, and spread on fruit as a snack – a great way to increase your daily intake of nuts.
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Turmeric is a spice derived from the turmeric plant and is often used in traditional Chinese medicine and as a flavouring for many dishes including curries, stir-frys and soups. Believe it or not, turmeric could have benefits for your mental health. One study found that curcurmin, the chemical compound found in turmeric was found to be as effective as antidepressants when treating depression.
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10. Sweet Treats
Last but not least, sometimes the best good mood food you need is an indulgent sweet treat to satisfy those cravings and provide a good pick-me-up. Our vegan Baked Cookies are available in three delicious flavours: Double Chocolate, Chocolate Chip, and Salted Caramel. Each cookie contains dark chocolate chips whilst remaining low in sugar and high in protein so you can enjoy the chocolatey goodness whilst still keeping on top of your health. Whilst the exact mechanisms behind why chocolate makes us feel so good is unclear, it is believed there may be a combination of orosensory properties (the sight, smell and feel of it) and the individual compounds found in chocolate such as flavanoids.5
Remember, pairing a diet full of tasty mood-boosting foods combined with a little self care is a great way to beat those pesky winter blues. Plus, you can even treat yourself to some of our delicious vegan snacks when you’re in need of a pick-me-up!