When Hippocrates famously said, “Let thy food be thy medicine,” he was on to something. Superfoods, a term to describe foods that are rich in micronutrients, act like Mother Nature’s pharmacy. They’re full of antioxidants, phytochemicals, and compounds that improve sleep, promote relaxation, and elevate your sense of wellbeing — and they’re delicious, to boot. Keep reading to learn which wintry mood-boosting food does what, and how to include it in your diet.
Improve mood with berries.
Whether you prefer blueberries, raspberries, or strawberries, these sweet gems add vibrance to the dullest plate. Accord to Stanford researchers, enjoying one cup of berries per day can make you feel 45 percent happier. The credit goes to their compounds (anthocyanins), which push the brain to release feel-good hormone serotonin.
Fresh produce can be expensive, but incorporating these mood boosting foods can still be done. Frozen berries contain just as many nutrients as fresh, because they’re picked and processed at the height of ripeness. Add them to one of these weight loss smoothies or a bowl of oatmeal. According to the Mayo Clinic, the high fiber can improve digestion and reduce chronic disease.
Green peas increase blood-sugar control.
Green peas lend a cheery pop of color to soups, stews, and casseroles, and their mild flavor allows them to be blended into smoothies without your tastebuds being the wiser. The mood-boosting food is also rich in fiber and protein. Try adding half a cup to a meal. Researchers at Connecticut’s University of Bridgeport say you’ll heighten your blood sugar control for two and a half hours, cutting your risk of sluggishness and improving your mood by as much as 75 percent.
(Recommended reading: 4 Best Diabetic Meal Delivery Services of 2021).
Tuna calms overworked adrenal glands.
Enjoying just one six ounce serving of tuna fish weekly can cut your risk of winter blues by 24 percent. Increasing the helping to three weekly servings will double your all-day happiness scores. That’s the word from Finnish researchers, who say tuna (even the canned kind) is brimming with omega-3 fats that calm adrenal glands to tamp down their production of mood-sapping cortisol.
Nosh on peanuts for better sleep.
Sound sleep cuts the risk of blue moods by 66 percent. University of Connecticut scientists say trading your usual bedtime snack for half a cup of peanuts can help you snooze 35 percent more soundly. The nuts are rich in copper and manganese, minerals that turn on sleep-deepening delta brain waves.
Sweet potatoes improve mood by raising dopamine levels.
These colorful spuds are packed with carotenoids that encourage your brain to release dopamine, the body’s natural antidepressant. Enjoy half a cup daily, and Australian researchers say you’ll feel 33 percent more upbeat and focused all winter long. If you’re tired of eating them baked, try mashing them and adding into this mac and cheese recipe. They will bring a sweet and creamier texture to the dish.
Rooibos tea relaxes the stress center
Fruity rooibos tea contains a rare plant compound (aspalathin) that calms the brain’s anxiety center, cutting chronic stress, irritability, and tension by as much as 50 percent. Enjoy 24 ounces daily, say British scientists. It’s naturally caffeine-free, so you can sip this soothing brew in the evening without disrupting your sleep.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.