10 Good Mood Foods To Eat This Winter
Unless you live in a warm, sunny, southern state, getting through winter can feel difficult for many people. Shorter days, less sunlight, colder temps, and having to scrape your windshield every morning leaves many people longing for spring.
If you are the type of person that struggles to get through the winter months, we’ve put together a list of “good mood foods” to help lift your spirits and carry you through to the springtime months.
10 Good Mood Foods To Get You Through Winter
If you typically turn to sugary, carb-rich, processed foods when you are feeling down, here are some good mood food alternatives to eat instead.
1. Dark Chocolate
Chocolate at the top of a health food list? Yes! Dark chocolate containing at least 70% cocoa is rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals.
Its sugar is a quick source of fuel for the brain and an excellent way to satisfy a sweet tooth healthily. Dark chocolate also contains a variety of feel-good compounds, such as:
Opt for true dark chocolate (milk chocolate contains added sugar) and stick to a square or two a day.
Oats are a delicious, savory, warming winter food that can help lift your spirits and keep you cozy on especially cold days.
Oats are also an excellent source of fiber, making oats an easy way to enjoy the health benefits of fiber. Fiber helps slow down the rate at which carbs are digested, allowing for sugar to be released into the bloodstream gradually. This helps support steady energy levels rather than the dreaded sugar high followed by a crash that comes with processed, high-glycemic foods.
Maintaining steady energy levels is a great way to maintain your spirits and keep your mood up on long winter days.
3. Fermented Foods
The fermentation process creates probiotics, live bacteria that support a healthy gut and may improve mood. Fermented foods to include in your diet include:
- Unsweetened, plain yogurt
Since up to 90% of the body’s serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects mood is produced in the gut, a healthy gut is believed to correspond to a good mood.
Avocados are rich in a variety of vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. Avocados are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, known for their positive effects on brain health and mood.
In addition to omega 3 fatty acids, avocados contain:
- B vitamins
- Vitamin C
5. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish such as sardines, wild-caught salmon, albacore tuna, and anchovies are a rich source of Omega 3’s, fatty acids that can have powerful positive effects on mood. Since these essential fatty acids — EPA and DHA — cannot be produced by your body, you must obtain them from dietary sources.
Consider enjoying two to three servings of fish a week to help nourish your body with these critical fatty acids.
Bananas are an excellent source of vitamin B6. This vitamin is crucial for synthesizing feel-good neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine.
Bananas are also a natural way to satisfy a sweet tooth thanks to their sugar content. Although some people steer clear of bananas due to their high sugar content, their high fiber content helps the body process the sugar more healthily. Due to the fiber, the sugar is released slower into the bloodstream, promoting more stable blood sugar levels and sustained energy. Low blood sugar levels can lead to mood swings and irritability.
Lastly, bananas (especially slightly green ones) are an excellent source of prebiotics. This type of fiber nourishes the good bacteria in your gut.
Bonus: Bananas are extremely convenient. Whether you need a quick bite at work or a grab-and-run snack, bananas are easy to enjoy even on the busiest days.
Coffee, the world’s most popular drink, is a perfect way to warm up on a cold winter day — and it may even boost your mood. In addition to coffee’s other health benefits, the caffeine content in coffee increases the release of neurotransmitters, such as norepinephrine and dopamine, that provide a natural mood boost.
Although more research is still needed, various phenolic compounds in coffee, such as chlorogenic acid, are also believed to have a positive effect on mood.
Berries are bursting with nutrients, antioxidants, phenolic compounds, vitamins, fiber, and minerals, all of which help combat oxidative stress and nourish the body.
Berries are especially high in anthocyanins, a pigment that gives certain berries their vibrant purple-blue hue and is associated with improved mood.
If you are unable to find fresh berries in winter, frozen is fine too! Frozen berries can be healthier than fresh ones in some cases.
9. Beans and Lentils
Along with their plant-based protein and high fiber content, lentils and beans are packed with feel-good vitamins and minerals that play key roles in regulating mood, including:
- B vitamins (these important vitamins work to support a lifted mood by increasing neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine, dopamine, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), and serotonin)
- Non-heme iron
10. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are high in plant-based proteins, healthy fats, zinc, selenium, and fiber. They also contain tryptophan, an amino acid involved in producing serotonin.
Try adding the following nuts and seeds to your diet by snacking on a handful plain, adding them to homemade trail mix, or topping your salad with them:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Brazil nuts
- Hemp seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Pine nuts
If winter has you craving processed, sugary, calorie-rich foods, try perking yourself up with some nourishing, “good mood” foods instead.
What are your favorite healthy foods to enjoy in winter? We’d love to hear from you.