4 Mins Read
The parties, festivities and fun of the holiday season is over, and for many of us, it’s back to our normal routines. Combined with the cold, wintery weather of January, it’s no wonder that many of us get caught with a case of the blues. Luckily enough, there are certain foods that we can try and incorporate into our diet, which boast different nutritional qualities and will help us turn our frowns upside down. Here are the 10 of the best plant whole foods to eat more of this January to help you out.
Walnuts aren’t just loaded with healthy vitamin E and antioxidants, but also omega-3 fatty acids, which could help ease symptoms of low mood and anxiety by boosting our brain function and reducing inflammation. In addition, walnuts are packed with the amino acid tryptophan, which indirectly increases our serotonin levels, the hormone that helps us feel more relaxed, calm and happy.
Wholegrains are important sources of B vitamins, which are crucial for brain health. B1, for instance, helps turns glucose into energy, and B6 helps to convert the amino acid tryptophan into serotonin (the happy, feel good hormone). So swap out your refined grains like white bread for whole grains like steel cut oats, quinoa, brown rice, millet and wholegrain pasta!
3. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potato is another mood booster because they’re packed with the antioxidant beta-carotene, which helps reduce free radical damage to brain cells and prevent oxidative stress that lead to DNA damage which will exacerbate low mood conditions like anxiety, depression and schizophrenia. As if we needed more reasons to love sweet potatoes!
Scientific research has found an association between high intake of flavonoids, an antioxidant found in fruits and veggies, with a lower risk of depression symptoms. Plums are full of flavonoids, so eat up!
5. Fermented Foods
Many experts have pointed to a healthy gut and happiness – research suggests that our gut bacteria does play a role in the development of different mental health issues like anxiety, depression and low mood. Adding in a good dose of fermented foods like kimchi, kombucha, miso, tempeh and plant-based yogurt can help enrich our bodies with the good probiotic bacteria!
6. Leafy Greens
Leafy greens like spinach, kale, collard greens, cabbage and watercress are high in vitamin C, beta-carotene and folate. Not only will vitamin C help boost your immune system to prevent you from easily getting ill this winter season, and beta-carotene help protect you from free radicals, getting adequate levels of folate in is optimal for brain mental health. So make sure you’re eating enough greens to beat the blues.
Did you know that one single banana contains 22% of your daily vitamin B6, a nutrient that helps your body produce the neurotransmitter serotonin? Help boost your B6 intake to get enough serotonin, which is linked to feelings of wellbeing and happiness!
Beets are not just a great source of fibre, but are packed with folate. So it really won’t hurt to load up on folate by whipping up an easy beetroot salad with dark leafy greens (both are packed full of the vitamin!).
Eating a diet high in fibre will promote a healthy digestive tract and help reduce inflammation in the gut. Inflammation in the brain can trigger altered neurotransmitters and impair optimal brain functioning, so loading up on fibre, which helps produce the short-chain fatty acids in the gut that is associated with anti-inflammatory effects could help. Lentils are great sources of fibre to boost your levels.
10. Dark Chocolate
Last but certainly not least, dark chocolate! Yes, it’s true – your chocolate fix doesn’t just give you a temporary smile, but can help you cope with the blues this January. Dark chocolate, which is high in cacao content, is rich in flavonoids that can help boost your mood.
Lead image courtesy of Kiian Oksana / Shutterstock.