Ah, fall. After blistering summer temperatures and endless heat waves, a drop in the temperatures can feel like a huge relief. There are so many things for which you can look forward this season: cozy sweaters, playing in the leaves, spectacular foliage colors, warm beverages, comfort foods. But shorter days and longer nights can trigger anxiety and depression in some, and that means that those comforting foods should include some options of the mood-boosting variety. In other words, it’s possible to help lift some of your brain chemistry by eating foods that boost your mental health.
Below are some of the best mood-boosting foods that come along with the fall season. Consider adding some of these to your grocery list:
Apples – High in antioxidants and filled with soluble fiber to balance your blood sugar, it’s true that an apple a day can help keep any number of maladies away. Throw one in your bag, or try any number of healthy recipes. Baked apples are a personal favorite.
Pumpkin Seeds – Speaking of delicious squash and pumpkins, these seeds are packed with zinc, a natural antidepressant, and also help fight off inflammation, which is another cause of anxiety and depression. They also contain magnesium, which can help relax mood.
Squash – According to most nutritionists, one cup of butternut squash packs a good amount of your daily recommended portions of potassium, manganese, and magnesium, all of which are critical for brain health. It also contains a tremendous amount of Vitamin C, which boosts immunity and nervous system health. Squash come in a wide variety, and can act as a substitute for spaghetti along with being the star of many comforting fall dishes.
Cinnamon – One of my personal favorites, it’s been used since the times of the ancient Egyptians as part of many cures for many health conditions. It contains manganese, which aids the central nervous system along with eradicating free radicals. Adding this warming spice to teas, soups, lattes, elixirs, and dishes not only helps your nervous health, but it can slightly boost your metabolism as well.
Turkey – Thanksgiving dinner can do more than just bring you together with loved ones. The meat of the bird is packed with tryptophan, an amino acid that helps you produce serotonin, the feel-good chemical in the brain.
Eggplant – Packed with phytonutrients that act as antioxidants as well as copper, manganese, and vitamin B1, these yummy vegetables are packed with mood-boosting ingredients and tons of fiber. Roasted, baked, or served as the timeless favorite eggplant parmesan, you can lose by adding more of them to your diet.
Turmeric – This delightful, versatile curry contains curcumin, an anti-inflammatory that can alleviate anxiety and depression. Use it on roasted vegetables, add it to soups and stews, or throw it in with teas and juices for a mood-boosting shot of health.
Herbal teas – If you crave warm beverages in the winter, herbal teas — specifically, chamomile — can help soothe anxiety, panic, and insomnia. It also contains no caffeine, which is actually not your friend when dealing with panic, anxiety, and depression.
Sweet Potato – This sweet veggie delivers high amounts of Vitamins A and C, and is loaded with manganese. copper, vitamin B6, biotin, and potassium. This makes an anti-inflammatory, health-loaded super food. Slice them up and serve them as fries, bake one and top it with cinnamon and a touch of honey, or whip them and add them to any number of dishes for better physical and mental health.
Dark chocolate – Filled with flavonoids, the darker the better when it comes to this delightful treat. It helps reduce stress hormones, including cortisol, with continued intake, but just a couple of squares a day are enough. Shave it over cocoa or enjoy a square with herbal tea for dessert.