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Have a case of the winter blues? It's a common to feel a bit down during the winter months, when we're exposed to less sunlight and frigid, grey days. Some among us have it worse than others. About 10 million Americans suffer from seasonal affective disorder, and I'm one of them. Though I find it harder to get up in the morning and constantly crave all of the carbs, I fight the good fight every single year. If you have a case of the sads, try these mood-boosting foods. 
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Salmon
Did you know that omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to improved mental health? The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health analyzed 26 previously published studies (involving 150,278 participants), examining the association between fish consumption and the risk of depression. The results? People who consumed the most fish were the least likely to have symptoms of depression.
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Serving suggestion: Pan-sear wild Alaskan salmon in sesame oil and soy sauce, using high heat to caramelize the soy sauce and seal in the moisture of the fish. Dust with toasted sesame seeds and serve. 
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Yogurt or Kefir
Probiotics are best known for their role in digestive health, but emerging research suggests that bacteria in the gut sends and receives signals to the brain (known as the gut-brain axis). In a review published in Annals of General Psychiatry in 2017, researchers analyzed 10 previously published studies and found that the majority of them linked the positive effects of probiotics on depression symptoms.
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Serving suggestion: Top a cup of yogurt or kefir with a variety of colors, textures and flavors. Some of my favorites are chia seeds, mint, cubed coconut, pepitas, pomegranate seeds, honey and mango. 
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Leafy greens
Folate deficiency may impair the metabolism of serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline (neurotransmitters important for mood). The good news is, there are endless choices for loading up on folate-rich foods. Spinach, artichokes and avocados are rich in folates.
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Serving suggestion: Smash an avocado into a fresh bowl of guacamole. Take it up a notch by adding pomegranate seeds - a tart, crunchy contrast to the silky texture. It's scrumptious, and pomegranates are in season during the winter! 
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Cheese
Cheese is packed with Vitamin D - a key benefit of direct sunlight that you may be missing out on in winter months. Research has suggested that vitamin D may increase the levels of serotonin, one of the key neurotransmitters influencing our mood.
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Serving suggestion: Put down the mild cheddar. I don't even know what the point of a mild cheddar is. Use this as an opportunity to load up on some exciting Vitamin D supplements in the gourmet cheese aisle. Try Humboldt Fog, a nutty Asiago or my newest cheese obsession, Truffle Tremor.
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And in just a month and a half, April will be upon us. Until then, if you are fighting the good fight like me, try and soak up as much sun as possible, get some exercise and enjoy those tasty remedies. We got this!
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February 21, 2020 by Fayeruz Regan

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