It’s cold, wet and grey outside. It is dark when you get up in the morning and dark as you make your way home from work and apart from Christmas, we don’t have much to look forward to in the coming months except more cold, dark days.
You don’t have to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) to feel a little blue in winter but by choosing the right foods, you can brighten up the winter months. We always knew that a bowl of mash or a big block of chocolate would bring a smile to our faces but now we can justify eating them too!
1. Spinach: They may have got their sums wrong when working out the iron levels in spinach but Popeye was still onto a good thing. Spinach is high in B vitamins including B6 and B9, also know as folic acid. The most usual deficiency in patients with depression is one of the B vitamins, which are powerful regulators of mood and depression is a common symptom of folic acid deficiency. Brown rice is another great source.
2. Kiwi Fruit: the humble kiwi is packed full of powerful vitamin C which seems to have a role in maintaining mood. One of the first symptoms of mild scurvy, the vitamin C deficiency disease, is depression, along with tiredness and irritability. Citrus fruit and peppers also contain high levels of this vitamin
3. Cheese: It has been shown that too little calcium in the blood may be associated with depression but don’t go overboard as too much calcium in the blood can tip you back into the blues.
4. Mash potato: Carbohydrates help produce serotonin that lead to a happy mood – well that explains why we love tucking into a big bowl of creamy, buttery mash!
5. Eggs: Whether you like them boiled, scrambled or poached, eggs are a good source of selenium, which has been shown to banish bad moods.
6. Salmon: Medical evidence suggests that omega-3 fatty acids – docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid – found in fish can help drive away depression.
7. Lobster: If you ever need an excuse to indulge in shellfish, here it is. Crabs, prawns and other shellfish are all high in zinc which could make you feel happier. A1994 study found that low levels of zinc are correlated with depression so hang the expense at make in lobster thermidor!
8. Chocolate: Yes it’s true chocolate does help your moods. It raises the level of tryptophan which in turn produce serotonin, the happiness hormone.
9. Steak: A lack of iron can cause sluggishness, trouble concentrating and bad moods but you can counter that by enjoying a lovely fillet steak – I’ll have mine with béarnaise thanks.
10. Nuts: Smoked, dry roasted or possibly coated in chocolate, nuts are rich in magnesium. Research has shown that a lack of magnesium can cause depression and anxiety so make sure that you snack on loads of nuts!
And a couple you should cut down on…
Caffeine: Drinking more than four or five cups of coffee a day can cause depression
Alcohol: A glass of wine or two may make you feel relaxed and carefree but alcohol directly reduces levels of serotonin so make sure you limit your intake
Sugar: Overdosing on sugar may make you hyperactive or needing a sleep but worse it can slow the brain’s production of endorphins which cause feelings of elation –now you don’t want to miss out on those do you?