The “winter blues” aren’t just a hypothetical idea or something you hear about in country songs. Wintertime depression can be a very real and devastating condition, and many people find themselves affected when the days are shorter, drearier and colder. In fact, it's estimated that at least 10 million Americans experience some form of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and an additional 10 to 20 percent of people have mild symptoms of SAD. These symptoms may include feelings of hopelessness, changes in appetite, a dip in energy levels, avoiding social situations and weight gain.
Luckily, there are many ways to alleviate seasonal depressive symptoms and a nutrient-rich diet is certainly high among these remedies. Here are three foods you can incorporate into your everyday meals to help beat the winter blues, benefiting both your mind and body in the process.
One particularly tasty way to fight the symptoms of SAD is to incorporate more acai into your winter diet. Acai is one of the healthiest berries on the planet, best known for its high content of antioxidants, which also support and protect the brain. These special antioxidants have been shown in numerous studies to improve mental function, boost energy, reduce irritation and even encourage a healthy libido. All these benefits contribute to better mental health in the winter and throughout the year, for that matter! Some winter acai powder recipe favorites include these acai berry tarts for a sweet after-dinner treat and these acai energy bites to get a super start to the morning.
Hormones also play a key role in mental health and really affect how you feel emotionally during the winter season, which is why the adaptogen maca is such a great ingredient to eat in the winter time. Maca helps balance your endocrine system, thereby encouraging your body to achieve a natural state of hormonal equilibrium and overall health. Navitas Organics Maca Powder is rich in micronutrients that aren’t found in most other foods, including trace minerals and protective flavonoid compounds. Some scientific evidence even suggests that maca is an effective anti-anxiety supplement, and even boosts your brain’s capacity to learn and remember new things. Regular consumption of maca is also helpful in maintaining a healthy libido in both men and women! Try packing some of these tasty cacao maca energy bites in your travel bag this winter or create a cacao maca energy elixir to warm up on a cold winter’s day.
Chia serves as a mood-improving hero because of its high amounts of omega-3s and important minerals, such as iron and magnesium. These nutrients are essential for brain health and a better brain translates to lowered risk of depression and happier days ahead. Meanwhile, both chia seeds and chia powder are high in fiber, which helps to support a healthy gut – yet another essential component of maintaining a positive mood. Best of all, chia is such a versatile superfood that it’s impressively easy to incorporate more chia into your daily life: simply toss it into soups, oats or smoothies for a recipe-free boost. For a special winter indulgence, try making a loaf of zucchini protein bread, which contains both chia powder and Vanilla & Greens Essential Blend—a plant protein-packed superfood blend full of stress-busting maca and gut-friendly probiotics—so you can treat yourself and your loved ones to a home-baked goody with whole-body health-boosting benefits this winter!
Hungry for more ways to use these mood-supporting superfoods? Click here to visit our recipe library!
Author Bio: Julie Morris is a Los Angeles-based superfood chef and New York Times best-selling author. Julie is also the founder of Luminberry, the world’s first online superfood cooking school, where she leads courses on how to use cutting-edge ingredients in recipes. Julie works as a recipe developer and consultant for various health companies, restaurants and media outlets, and has published five cookbooks that have sold around the globe.