Top 10 Foods That Help with Seasonal Affective Disorder
If you suffer from seasonal mental health issues like Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), you know how difficult certain months of the year can be.
Otherwise known as the “winter blues,” Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of depression that drastically impacts the lives of many during the colder, darker months of the year. While the cause could be related to a number of factors depending on the individual case, it’s generally accepted that the change in sunny, daylight hours during the winter is behind the disorder.
Fortunately, there are a number of different strategies that individuals with SAD can use to help care for their mental health during the winter – one of which is focusing on the foods we eat.
Aside from stocking up your supplement cabinet with vitamin D and making sure that you get lots of light, you can also fight SAD by eating a few specific foods. These foods can brighten up your mood, boost your serotonin levels, and make you feel like you’re on a tropical holiday—even if you’re stuck indoors during a blizzard.
Here are the ten best foods to help with Seasonal Depressive Disorder/Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD):
Hemp seed is our top choice for boosting your mood during the winter months for a number of reasons. First of all, hemp seed represents a great source of proteins. These proteins carry amino acids that increase your energy levels and raise your overall mood. In addition, hemp seed doesn’t contain as many high-saturated fats as other protein sources. Finally, hemp seed also contains a massive dose of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which has been linked in some studies to lower rates of depression.
2. Sunflower Seeds
Sprinkling some sunflower seeds on your meal is another easy way to address the negative impact of SAD. Sunflower seeds can raise your mood and transport you back in time to the sunnier months, all thanks to their high levels of folic acids. While additional studies are needed to make the claim that folic acid helps regulate mood, many researchers speculate that folic acid may be used as “fuel” to create serotonin, one of the chemicals we release when we’re happy. While there’s no concrete evidence yet to link folic acid with the release of serotonin, it’s safe to say that sunflower seeds are a tasteful, healthy choice this winter.
3. Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast is another helpful food for those with SAD, due to its B-12 and protein contents, as well as the number of different ways it can be prepared. For many years, scientists have observed a link between B-12 and overall mood. Without enough B-12, the body essentially begins to shut down. Research has also shown a link between depression and low levels of B-12 in the bloodstream. This winter, be sure to boost your B-12 by eating nutritional yeast, and you’ll likely begin to notice a change in your mood, too.
Mushrooms are full of a number of nutrients, including the ever-important Vitamin D. Vitamin D is probably one of the most important vitamins to keep in your system during the winter months. During the summer, we can create all the vitamin D we need by absorbing sunlight and using our existing cholesterol levels. However, when the days get darker, the sun is no longer a viable source of Vitamin D for many who live in cold, snowy climes. Thankfully, you can still absorb lots of vitamin D by eating lots of mushrooms this winter.
5. Dark Chocolate
While it’s true that you should probably avoid sweet foods as much as possible during the winter months, there is one special treat that you can still indulge in. Dark chocolate is an excellent “secret weapon” in the fight against SAD, and this is because of its antioxidant content. To be exact, dark chocolate contains something called polyphenols, which are packed with antioxidants.
If you’re looking for another superfood to get you through the winter, why not reach for a banana? It might seem like a simple solution, but bananas are positively packed with a number of mood-boosting vitamins and amino acids. Bananas provide a good dose of B6, which improves brain function by producing norepinephrine and melatonin, both of which are important for mood regulation. To top it all off, bananas also contain the amino acid tryptophan, which helps with serotonin synthesis, and potassium, which will help keep you hydrated.
If you’re looking for another great source of folic acid, lentils are a great solution. Just one cup of cooked lentils contains 90% of your recommended daily dose of folic acid. They also contain tryptophan, like bananas, and will help boost your brain’s serotonin as a result. Lentils can also be added to pretty much any dinner recipe, making them the perfect thing to keep in the pantry.
Nuts are another great mood stabilizer, perfect for making the effects of SAD a little more bearable. This is because most nuts also help boost your serotonin levels. Different types of nuts contain different vitamins and helpful compounds. For instance, brazil nuts contain high levels of B vitamins and selenium, while pistachios are known for their high levels of vitamin B6 – both of which can also help you maintain a positive mood.
Spinach is well-known for its iron content, which helps keep your body full of energy. In addition, spinach contains a number of helpful minerals and omega-3 fatty acids. There is evidence that spinach can even help with your sleep cycles and the regulation of stress hormones.
While all whole-grain foods are excellent mood boosters, consider cooking with some quinoa this winter if you’re aiming to boost your serotonin levels. Quinoa’s complex carb content helps you produce more serotonin throughout the winter months, and its protein content can also help you regulate your mood.
The Power of Food
While there is no discounting how tough Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can be for those affected during the winter months, a healthy diet is one thing you can control, which will help you keep your mental health in check.
It’s amazing what a healthy, balanced diet can do for your overall feeling of well-being. In addition to boosting your mental health, a great diet also comes with other physical benefits, like a strengthened immune system and improved wound healing. Committing to change by adding some of these foods into your diet will both help you regulate your mood and help you feel accomplished in your eating habits this winter.
You might be interested in the below articles from the same author:
Elliot Figueira is an experienced analyst and journalist with over seven years of experience in content creation. Elliot has written for major blogs, news, and wound care sites. In his mind, one of the best things about writing for a living is the chance to learn new things every single day. Outside of writing, Elliot enjoys science-fiction literature and cultivating various types of cacti.
Please use this Image for Pin: