Cold, gray weather is often linked to a rise in depression and other mood problems. This happens for many reasons, including reduced exposure to sunlight, less physical activity, greater financial concerns, and even eating nutrient-poor comfort foods. All of these situations are more common during the winter season.
If you could eat certain foods and experience similar (or better) mood-boosting effects without taking antidepressants, would you jump on board? These amazing benefits can be contributed to one nutrient that has been shown to support overall health and wellness: omega-3 fatty acids.
What are Omega-3s?
Omega-3s are essential fats that can’t be made by the body— we must get them solely through diet. What makes omega-3 fats so special is their significance in forming cell membranes throughout the body and affecting how receptors in those membranes operate.
This crucial nutrient has been linked to improved cardiovascular health, decreased inflammation, better skin, and even reduce risk of certain cancers.
How Omega-3s Benefit Mood
Another benefit of omega-3 fatty acids is their role in brain and mental health functioning, particularly for depression and anxiety. Because the brain is made up mostly of fat, deficits in these essential fatty acids is associated with high rates of mood and mental disorder.
Researchers have determined that a diet rich in omega-3s can improve mood more effectively than popular antidepressant medications.
How to Benefit from Omega-3 Fats
Belonging to the family of heart-healthy, polyunsaturated fats, omega-3s can be found in fatty fish, vegetable oils, nuts and seeds, and leafy vegetables. Eat omega-3 rich foods two to three times per week to reap the benefits.
Below are a list of foods that are great sources of omega-3 fats.
- Atlantic mackerel
- Alaskan salmon (wild-caught)
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
- Albacora tuna
Omega-3s, in lesser amounts, can also be found in leafy green vegetables like spinach and arugula and beans like navy beans and kidney beans.
Don’t let the winter season get you down. Add more omega-3 fatty acids to your diet and/or take a supplement to experience the a brighter mood. Although increasing omega-3s in your diet or supplementing with them could improve symptoms of mood disorder, you should still consult with your doctor before to determine the best method of treatment for your case.
Header photo by Ren QingTao on Unsplash.