Every once in a while we all get the blues, but certain foods can fight a case of melancholy. Here are three of the most potent, why they work, and how to gobble them up.
One cup supplies over 30 percent of your daily folate needs. A shortfall of this key nutrient has been known to trigger depression, mental fatigue and insomnia. In addition, several common medications can deplete your body's supply of folate, including cholesterol-lowering drugs, anti-inflammatory drugs, diabetes medications and birth control pills.
Fortunately fresh beets are in-season year round — just be sure to eat them fresh because the folate can plummet by up to 40 percent when cooked. Grate them for a delicious and colorful addition to garden salads; marinate freshly sliced beets in fresh lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and herbs; or add fresh beats to a smoothie or juice concoction along with fruit — it will add a gorgeous hue and a bit of sweetness without overpowering the flavor.
There are thousands of varieties — the most common are kelp, nori, hijiki and wakame. Sea veggies are incredibly rich in iodine and one of the few sources of this important mineral. Too little can trigger hypo or hyperthyroidism, fatigue, weight gain and depression. Fortunately just a quarter cup packs over 275 percent of your daily iodine needs. To power up make a wakame, cucumber salad side dish using rice vinegar and fresh ginger; whip up a seaweed pizza — brush extra virgin olive oil on a whole grain flatbread crust and top with garlic, onions, fresh sliced tomato and nori; or make a Korean omelet by adding julienned nori, sesame seeds, green onions, shredded carrots and mushrooms to one whole organic egg and two whites.
Mushrooms are a double whammy. They're rich in selenium, which studies have linked deficiencies to a higher risk of depression, anxiety and fatigue. And they're the only plant source of natural vitamin D, a key nutrient three out of four Americans don’t get enough of — a British study found that people suffering with seasonal affective disorder (which affects 11 million Americans) had an enhanced mood after consuming more vitamin D. New research shows that "sunning" mushrooms, which grow in the shade, after harvesting for just five minutes causes their vitamin D content to skyrocket — to over 800 percent of the Daily Value. To eat more replace half or all of the ground turkey in tacos, burritos, or stuffed peppers with finely chopped mushrooms sautéed in extra virgin olive oil; use two grilled Portobello mushrooms as a "bun" for a veggie or turkey burger; or instead of topping with fruit, make a savory bowl of morning oatmeal by adding sautéed wild mushrooms, garlic, scallions and rosemary.
Cynthia Sass is a registered dietitian with master's degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV she's a SHAPE contributing editor and nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays. Her latest New York Times best seller is Cinch! Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches.