It’s hard to imagine anyone getting a case of the winter blues with all the holiday hustling and bustling happening, but seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is estimated to affect as many as 10 million Americans.

SAD is really punctuated in the winter months. Adjusting to colder, shorter and darker days sets it off for many sufferers. But even the holidays, especially if bonds with family and friends are strained, can add to the gloom.

Sometimes the cold grey days get to me, considering that where I live in Maine, I have about four months of winter to put up with.

But this year, I’m going to stock my pantry with some foods that can help. Some are just warm, comfort foods. But some have nutrients that can combat those winter blues in a very real way.

Here’s my list, along with why they help…

10 foods to keep on hand this winter

  1. Oatmeal. Sure, it’s warm. Sure, it feels good. But a bowl of oatmeal is a really healthy way to start off those winter days. Oatmeal’s low glycemic index keeps your blood sugar levels stable until lunchtime. No getting “hangry” in the middle of the morning! Oatmeal is also high in selenium, which may improve mood by reducing inflammation. A cup of oatmeal (steel-cut is most nutritious) gives you 13 mcg of selenium. Add ¼ cup of sunflower seeds for a nice crunch and another 19 mcg. of selenium.

2.Lentils. Lentils are loaded with folate (naturally occurring vitamin B-9), which is needed to produce serotonin, our “happy hormone.” Lentils are also high in fiber and complex carbohydrates that slow the release of sugar into our bloodstream, helping to regulate our mood and our energy levels.

3. Turkey. Why do we always nod off shortly after Thanksgiving dinner? Because turkey is rich in tryptophan, an amino acid used to make serotonin, which may also promote slow-wave sleep.

4. Dark chocolate. Good news for chocolate lovers! That hot cocoa, if made with unsweetened cocoa powder, is not only cozy and comforting. It releases endorphins, the hormone that makes you feel more upbeat. If you’re eating a bar of dark chocolate, go for one with 70% cocoa solids or higher.

5. Berries. Blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries are stress relievers. The antioxidants and vitamin C they contain may help prevent the over-release of the stress hormone cortisol.

6. Salmon. Not only is salmon a great lean protein choice, but it is chock full of omega-3s, which are known to have a range of positive effects on health. When taken consistently as a supplement, omega 3 fatty acids improve heart health, lower cholesterol, even ease the joint pain of rheumatoid arthritis. Eating 2-3 servings of salmon per week will get you enough omega-3s to help with the winter blues. (Tuna, anchovies, and herring are good choices, too, if you prefer those).

7. Walnuts. A satisfying snack, walnuts can also be added to oatmeal, stuffing, salads, and rice to add crunch and give you a boost of depression-fighting omega-3s.

8. Quinoa. This grain-like seed is rich in folate (vitamin B9). A cup of cooked quinoa delivers 19 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA). The same cup of quinoa has 30 percent of the RDA of magnesium. Many older adults are deficient in magnesium and don’t know it. Depression and anxiety are just one way a magnesium deficiency could make itself known.

9. Bananas. Inexpensive and available year-round, bananas are high in vitamin B6, which is needed to convert tryptophan into serotonin. A banana also gives you a dose of complex carbohydrates and fiber, both of which have a role in brain health.

10. Eggs. Eggs are high in choline, an essential nutrient that keeps your nervous system healthy. Between 425 and 550mg a day is recommended. And guess what? Just two hard-boiled eggs will give you between 250 and 300mg of this brain-boosting nutrient!


  1. 15 Mood-Boosting Foods to Beat the Winter Blues — Food Network Canada
  2. Omega-3 and Depression — Healthline
  3. 11 Proven Health Benefits of Quinoa — Healthline
  4. Simple Carbohydrates vs. Complex Carbohydrates — Healthline
  5. Healthy Eating for Depression — Healthline
  6. Choline: The Supernutrient in Eggs You Didn’t Know About — MegaFood Blog

Many thanks to Joyce Hollman and Easy Health Options for this information. You may access the original at

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