Top 6 happy foods to beat winter blues

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If you or someone in your family is susceptible to mood swings you may want to consider changing up your diet just a little.

The foods you eat are responsible for your skin’s glow and our hair’s shine, for the strength of your bones and the health of your heart. The foods you eat can also have a great impact on mood.

These micronutrients found in certain foods can go a long way to supporting the entire family in feeling a little less blue.

1.     Omega 3’s

Alpha-linolenic acid (one of the forms of omega-3 fatty acids) are especially prominent in walnuts, flax and chai seed. These have been shown to make people feel a little more optimistic. Of the many benefits of oily fish, their high levels of omega 3’s make them a great mood food. Your best choices are wild caught salmon, sardines, mackerel, herrings and any other small oily fish. For more on the benefits of Omega 3's read this post.

2.     Vitamin D

Vitamin D is actually a hormone but most often referred to as the sunshine or happiness vitamin. Vitamin D is proven to increase serotonin (the happy hormones) in your body, helping to ward off the blues. Not many foods are rich in Vitamin D but egg yolks and fish with bones are a couple of good sources. You may want to consider taking a Vitamin D supplement especially if you live in a climate limited in sunlight (a natural source of this special vitamin). For more on the benefits of Vitamin D read this post.

3.     Vitamin B12

This vitamin is only present in animal foods and for those following a plant based diet, it is important to supplement wisely. A few good sources of B12 include cottage cheese, milk, shellfish and eggs. For more on the benefits of Vitamin B12 read this post.

4.     Folate

Folate is the naturally occurring (and much more available form) of the supplement folic acid. Foods high in folate include oranges, sunflower seeds and broccoli.

Foods high in Vitamin D, Vitamin B12 and Folate are quite important as far as mood is concerned. Studies have shown a link between blood levels low in these vitamins and depression.

 5.     Theobromine & Phenylethyamine (dark chocolate)

There is a reason you are drawn to chocolate when feeling a little down. Dark chocolate has a couple of strong mood-boosting compounds in it that can lift your spirits on a gloomy day. Eating an ounce of dark chocolate (think a serving size of roughly six Hershey Kisses) a day can lower the stress hormone levels that lead to high anxiety. The caveat is that chocolate is considered good for you and only counts as a health food in small amounts that is at least 70% cocoa solids, preferably organic!

6.     Protein

Protein can raise dopamine and norepinephrine levels in your brain which lead to happy feelings. Proteins found in animal foods, whole milk dairy, nuts and seeds (especially pumpkin seeds) also provide your body with the amino acid tryptophan which is important for the manufacture of serotonin – your feel good hormone. A bowl of creamy full fat Greek yogurt is more than just delicious, it can be a mood booster too. Try this slow cooker yogurt recipe.

For those who often feel irritable and on the crabby side, keeping blood sugar levels stable will have a calming effect and a put a positive turn to your mood. Read this post for more on how to stabilize your blood sugar levels.

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