Wednesday, 24 October 2012

5 Ways Fall Foods Can Improve Your Mood

5 Ways Fall Foods Can Improve Your Mood


Autumn is awesome, isn’t it?
I mean, really?
Crisp air, brightly colored leaves, carving jack-o’-lanterns, getting lost in corn mazes, finally digging out those layers (the girls know what I mean), and…
Oh, yeah!
Delicious foods!
Of course, we already know how good fall foods are, but do we know how they benefit us beyond our taste buds?
Here’s a list of 5 ways fall foods can improve your mood.

1. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids
Why are omega-3 fatty acids good for your mood?
Well, the brain is about 60% fat, and according to Dr. Oz we (and by “we” I mean Americans, though I’m sure there are plenty of others) aren’t getting enough omega-3 fats to satisfy our brains – or moods:
Growing evidence suggests that consuming inadequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids is associated with depression and poor moods.
Omega-3 fatty acids can also help with fatigue and difficulty concentrating.
Fall foods that can help pump up your omega-3 intake?
  • Wild rice. To get the most omega-3 fatty acids, make sure it’s wild rice, and not white or brown rice.
  • Walnuts. I always associate walnuts with Christmas and other winter holiday recipes, but lots of Thanksgiving and fall dishes call for them, too!
  • Beans. Black beans and kidney beans are especially good for omega-3 fatty acids. Toss a bag of bean soup in the crock pot and you’ll have dinner for days.
EDIT: Nutritionist Elizabeth Somer of has written in to disagree with including plant-based food as sources of the kinds of Omega-3 Fatty Acids that can boost mood. Readers, please note the Dr. Oz article quoted in this piece does include plant-based foods in the omega-3 section of the “Crank Proof Your Diet: 5 Good Mood Foods”: “[...]seeds and the sprouts are rich in vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fats to further bolster mood, brain power and immunity.” Ms. Somer’s comment does bring up one valuable point: Be sure to talk with your own trusted doctor, nutritionist, or dietician if you want to incorporate certain kinds of foods in your diet for specific mood- and mental health-related benefits.
2. They have vitamin D
Vitamin D is good for your mood because it helps boost serotonin, melatonin, and dopamine (the brain’s neurotransmitters). Often, people with Vitamin D deficiency are more prone to depression.
(If you suspect you might be Vitamin D deficient, your doctor can perform a blood test.)
We know that sunlight is a great source of Vitamin D, but fall (and winter) don’t always give us as many sunny days as the spring and summer months. So, good autumn-type foods rich in Vitamin D include:
  • Mushrooms. Mushrooms are another common ingredient in lots of holiday recipes.
  • Fish. I don’t eat fish, but I know lots of folks who don’t eat red meat do prefer fish and sole, flounder, tuna, and salmon are great sources of Vitamin D.
  • Eggs and dairy products. Unless you’re vegan, chances are most of your fall holiday desserts (and some main dishes) will include eggs and dairy products like milk. Good news for vegans, too: You can get Vitamin D from soy milk.
  • Sweet potatoes. I eat these all year, but I can’t even imagine fall without sweet potatoes!
3. They are rich in the B vitamins
Specifically, B-6 and B-12 can help books serotonin production.
For more Vitamins B-6 and B-12 in your fall diet, try:
  • B-6: Avocados, baked potatoes (leave the skin; sweet potatoes are great sources, too), and steamed green beans.
  • B-12: Like Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12 is prevalent in fish, eggs, and dairy foods; however, “heavier” meals like lamb and beef include B-12, too. Oh, and let’s not forget turkey!
4. They contain selenium
Not familiar with selenium?
According to the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, selenium is a “trace mineral that is essential to good health but required only in small amounts.”
There’ve only been preliminary studies so far to show it might help with mild depression.
Autumn foods rich in selenium include a lot of what we’ve seen listed already, such as:
  • Beans
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts
  • Lean meats
  • Low-fat dairy products
5. They increase your serotonin
Increasing your serotonin levels improves your mood, so don’t forget these serotonin-boosting foods as you plan your autumn snacks and meals:
  • Pumpkins
  • Carrots
  • Tomatoes
  • Spinach. Spinach is also good for folic acid and magnesium, both of which can help boost dopamine production.
  • Oatmeal. Oatmeal is also good for folate (or folic acid) and dopamine production.
How about YOU, readers? What’s your favorite fall food? Any special benefits (or recipes!) you’d like to share with us?

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