Foods that help you kick the winter blues

Oatmeal tops the list. (Thinkstock Photo)

WASHINGTON — Winter is the season least conducive to good health, with the cold keeping folks indoors, the holidays keeping people’s bellies full and the runny noses keeping people home from work. But experts say there are certain foods that help keep the winter blues away.

Men’s Health put together a list of foods that can boost your health this winter, and oatmeal lands on top.

In part, oatmeal is good during the winter because whole grain carbs can give bad winter moods a boost. In fact, an MIT study found that eating healthy carbohydrates helps keep your serotonin levels up and can help reduce cravings for sweets.

Other whole grain carbohydrate sources include whole wheat bread, brown rice, whole grain cereals and fruit.

Walnuts come in second on Men’s Health’s list. That’s because the omega-3 fatty acids found in them will help combat dry skin from the inside, while moisturizer can only help from the outside. Other foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, flaxseed, olive oil and tuna.

Garlic is often cited as one of the healthiest foods a body can eat, and it comes in third on the Men’s Health list. Researchers recently found garlic can help prevent sickness because of a chemical it contains called allicin, which may help stimulate production of white blood cells. Other foods that help boost immunity are carrots, yogurt and oysters.

If weight is something you need to watch, winter squash is a great way to fill up without filling out. That’s because it’s loaded with fiber and is relatively low in calories. Fiber rich foods are slow to digest, so they leave you feeling full longer. Other good weight-loss foods include artichokes, raspberries, whole grains and legumes.

For lunch, try ordering a chicken sandwich, which can help you keep your energy up, Men’s Health says. Shorter days can cause you to feel sleepy, but eating complex carbohydrates along with protein can help rejuvenate your tired body. That’s because your body digests the complex carbohydrates slowly, keeping your blood sugar stable, and the protein helps you to feel fill. Other good options are peanut butter sandwiches on whole grain bread, greek yogurt with fruit and whole grain crackers with low fat cheese.

Finally, the winter classic: chicken noodle soup. Soup has long been touted a common cold remedy, and that’s because hot liquids can help clear your sinuses and possibly reduce inflammation in your nose and throat. Added, most chicken noodle soups are low in calories and fat and high in fiber. If you don’t like chicken noodle, try drinking tea, coffee or any broth-based soup.

WTOP’s Kathy Stewart contributed to this report. Follow WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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