Winter chills have you feeling blue? Thanks to frosty temperatures and endless snowfall this year, we could all use a bit of a pick-me-up. What you may not realize is that the mood boost you crave can be found in the kitchen. And no, we aren’t talking about the healing powers of classic comfort foods. Sure whipping up a pot of macaroni and cheese can help you feel warm and fuzzy, but it also requires extra time in the gym.
Luckily, there are a lot of lighter foods that can help you eat your way to happiness. In fact, these five fresh ingredients (and Michigan favorites) are scientifically proven to keep your smile going all winter long.
Berries: Dark-colored berries, like blueberries and strawberries, contain an antioxidant called anthocyanin, which helps enhance your mood and fight off stress. Michiganders will find no shortage of these healing fruit during harvest season: The state ranks first in high brush blueberry production and seventh in strawberry production.
Spinach: Deep-green vegetables like spinach and broccoli are high in folic acid, a crucial element for brain health that boosts your mood by regulating the brain’s calm-inducing compound, serotonin.
Salmon: Oily fish like salmon are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential to fending off the symptoms of depression and mood swings while improving memory and focus.
Dark chocolate: While the sweet taste of chocolate is sure to lift your spirits instantly, it’s also high in magnesium, which has been shown to calm muscles and reduce anxiety. On top of that, dark chocolate contains the compound tryptophan (of Thanksgiving fame), which can alleviate the symptoms of depression.
Cayenne pepper: This tasty spice kicks up more than just the heat index of your favorite dish–it’s also endorsed by Dr. Oz to improve your mood. Cayenne gets its spiciness from an ingredient called capsaicin, which stimulates your heart rate and releases stress-relieving endorphins in the brain.
Photo credit: stephycupcake