If you’re feeling the effects of the shorter days – lack of energy, moodiness, difficulty concentrating, weight gain – you’re not alone. It is estimated that up to 15% of Americans experience from some form of the “winter blues” with an estimated 6% suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – a major depressive disorder.
So what can we do to avoid feeling SAD this winter? Eat your winter squash!
Winter squash has been shown to improve symptoms in people with a host of depressive disorders but is specifically beneficial for those suffering from SAD. How does this humble veggie manage such a feat?
Feel Good Starches. Serotonin levels decrease in the winter months because as the days get shorter our bodies are exposed to more melatonin (the sleep hormone) which drives out serotonin. To boost our serotonin levels many of us reach for “comfort foods” because they make us feel good – temporarily. Overindulgence of the wrong types of carbohydrates however will make us feel even worse, especially when we can’t fit into our favorite pants! Replace simple carbs and sweets with winter squash which is high in fiber, naturally sweet and has a low glycemic index. If eaten right before bed a winter squash will also help you sleep better! Butternut Squash grown by Stone Meal Farm is our favorite.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Winter squash is a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids which are linked to improved mood and cognitive functioning.
Improved Immunity. Nobody feels good when they are sick! The Carotenoids, Potassium and Vitamin C that abound in winter squash are all essential to maintaining a healthy immune system. Don’t forget the seeds! Winter squash seeds help our immune system out too by providing zinc, magnesium, and Omega-6 fatty acids in ample amounts.
Although grown in the summer and harvested in the fall, winter squash has a thick exterior rind which makes this veggie suitable for storage through the winter. Thanks nature for providing us with this delicious treat in our time of need!