“You are what you eat,” so the cliché goes. However, there’s more truth to that phrase than you might realize. The foods we eat, especially as the days turn colder and darker, can impact everything from inflammation levels to mental health. So why not turn to the foods of the fall to boost mental health and make the most of the season?

A Homegrown Medicine Chest

Sure, we all know that eating our vegetables is good for us, but foods of the fall are uniquely capable of fighting health issues like seasonal depression. In fact, a 2021 study showed that a poor diet high in sugar, fat, and artificial ingredients directly impacts mental health. This situation becomes even more complicated in the fall and winter as the weather changes.

Luckily, a few simple tweaks to your diet can make a world of difference. Fall vegetables like pumpkin are high in magnesium, a mineral shown to boost mental health, while another autumnal favorite, brussels sprouts, is rich in folate. Some other high-impact foods to indulge in this time of year include sweet potatoes, pomegranates (antioxidant powerhouses!), and winter squash. Dieticians also recommend nibbling on some dark chocolate and seeking out seafood like mussels, oysters, and clams, which have a wealth of magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids.

Yes, Soup for You

With the foods of the fall offering so many beneficial vitamins and minerals, finding new ways to consume them is part of the fun:

    • Boost mental health with pureed soups made from pumpkin or squash. Even an afternoon snack of some pumpkin seeds will help stave off seasonal depression.
    • Soups and chowders featuring clams and other seafood are a tasty way to boost mental health.
    • Roasting some brussels sprouts with a simple preparation of olive oil and salt, or shaving them raw to enjoy as a salad, is an easy and delicious way to receive their benefits.

It’s also important to remember that what you choose not to indulge in can be just as important as taking advantage of the foods of the fall. Alcohol consumption, which is an omnipresent part of the holiday season, can heavily impact seasonal depression, as can all of those sugary, delicious treats that we also look forward to. But, by making extra room for foods of the fall, you’ll have one more tool for fighting seasonal depression.

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