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foodAre you feeling blue? Rest assured, you are not alone. As the weather turns chilly and daylight hours decrease, many people tend to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which alters their mood.

Fight the winter blues by adding these four mood boosting foods to your diet:

Asparagus is chock-full of folic acid, the body’s natural mood booster. This spear-shaped green is also a rich source of tryptophan – an essential protein that regulates serotonin levels in the blood – which is responsible for maintaining your moods; research has linked low serotonin levels with mild depression. The presence of folate in asparagus balances your moods, makes you more sociable, and if you are on anti-depressants, folate increases their effectiveness. Greek yoghurt is made by straining regular yoghurt to remove liquid whey and lactose and it is packed with more calcium than regular milk; calcium triggers the release of feel good neurotransmitters in the body, helping to overcome often unexplained bouts of anxiety, depression and irritability. Greek yoghurt contains high levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which accelerates the metabolism and reduces body fat, thereby decreasing weight-related anxiety and stress.

Mussels contain iodine, selenium and zinc, nutrients essential for regulating the thyroid gland – the body’s ‘master mood regulator’. They are loaded with vitamin B12 which insulates the brain cells by maintaining a healthy myelin sheath, preventing age-related cognitive decline, keeping you alert and upbeat as you grow older.

Sardines contain large quantities of Omega-3 fatty acids that combat depression and mental fatigue by increasing the brain’s ‘happy’ neurotransmitters. By adding canned or farmed sardines to your diet, you are less likely to be vulnerable to sudden surges of stress hormones (usually the precursors to panic attacks) due to high levels of antioxidants present in them.

– Saba Gul Hasan
The writer is a nutritionist.

First published in the Health Advertiser of The Dawn Weekend Advertiser on January 25, 2015.

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