Winter is greatly anticipated by some and dreaded by others! If you fall into the latter group and are prone to experiencing the winter blues, here are some key foods to include in your diet during winter to help boost your mood:
Chickpeas are a great source of plant-based protein and also iron. In fact, compared to other legumes, the iron within chickpeas is more readily absorbed. Adequate iron is critical to enable energy production in the body to take place and to support concentration and mental focus, all of which impact overall mood. During winter, chickpeas make a great addition to warm salads, stews, slow-cooked dishes and soups!
Leeks contain prebiotics, which are carbohydrate-containing foods known to resist digestion in the small intestine and therefore are a fuel for gut flora in the colon. This means, probiotics are necessary to feed the good bugs in our gut which and a healthy balance of gut flora may benefit mood. Leeks are a great way to add more prebiotics to your diet and can be used in replace of onion when cooking or simply roasted and eaten as a side.
Natural yoghurt is a very accessible source of probiotics and we all know the importance of probiotics when it comes to gut health. Our gut and brain are linked as they share many of the same nerve endings, hormones and neurotransmitters. There is more and more research looking at the connection between gut health and mood. In addition, natural yoghurt offers a source of protein, which helps to not only increase satiety but also help with the production of neurotransmitters, necessary for a good mood.
Hemp seeds are a plant-based source of essential fats so a great option for those who don’t like fatty fish. Essential fats cannot be made the body so we must get an adequate supply in our diet. Healthy fats are critical for the proper functioning of the chemical messengers in our brain, controlling mood and emotions. In addition, essential fats help to support the immune system, which can be beneficial during winter to also ward off sickness!
Broccoli, capsicum, spinach & sweet potato
Broccoli, capsicum, spinach and sweet potato are all examples of vegetables with a high antioxidant, vitamin and mineral content. A high intake of antioxidant rich vegetables is linked to improved mood via reducing oxidative damage and inflammation whilst also supporting a healthy gut microbiotia. During winter, focus on making sure your meals contain a high amount of vegetables and a great way to do this is by starting your meals with a vegetable based soup.
Words by Zoe Bingley Pullin
Zoe is a popular nutritionist and chef who studied at the infamous Le Cordon Bleu school in London and worked through the south of France. Zoe is the creator of her popular Falling In Love With Food online programs and her self published book Falling In Love With Food. She is the host of the new channel 7 house of wellness and was the host of channel 10’s Good Chef Bad Chef as well as the resident chef on Channel 10’s studio 10.