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8 Winter Foods to Boost Mood & Metabolism

In the winter, people often turn to heavy foods for comfort, but eating big portions of rich food can leave you feeling stuffed and sleepy.

Here are some winter foods to keep your body moving and your mood high.


Pomegranates are full of antioxidants — even more than other juices — and also help to prevent “bad” LDL cholesterol, which can contribute to build up in the arteries and cause heart disease. Try using them in place of jelly for an open-faced PB&J in this pomegranate peanut butter toast.


Did you know dark leafy greens may actually taste better in the winter because the frost shocks some bitterness out of them? It’s true, especially for kale, which is rich in immune- and eyesight-boosting vitamins. Try it in a no-cook, marinated salad that’s even better the day after you make it.


Selenium is a mineral that can jumpstart your immune system, aid in reproduction and help regulate your mood. You can find it in seafood such as crab, sardines, fish and clams, which is yet another reason clam chowder is a perfect winter food.


Nuts are full of protein, which can curb hunger fast. Almonds, hazelnuts and pecans are also full of healthy fatty acids, which have been shown to help speed up metabolism. Make a batch of candied hazelnuts for a quick snack and use leftovers to top salads and desserts.

Chili peppers

Spicy foods are great to eat in the winter because they create a thermogenic response, which just means they spur the body to naturally produce heat. That makes chili peppers a triple threat as they will:

  1. Warm you up
  2. Wake you up and
  3. Help your body burn more calories.

Here are 3 jalapeno recipes to try for breakfast, lunch or dinner.


Papayas are rich in folic acid, which helps produce serotonin (the chemical that makes you happy) and may help some people who suffer from depression. While papayas aren’t the most traditional Tennessee fruit, they are really simple to prepare, especially in Thai food. Try this papaya salad recipe to get a hit of serotonin and the spicy-food benefits mentioned above.


Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help stabilize your mood, and tuna is full of them. Fish has also been shown to reduce levels of a hormone called leptin, which slows your metabolism. Try seared tuna with root vegetables for a comforting and mood-boosting winter dinner.


Squash is a low-calorie food that’s packed with vitamin A, which is great for your skin because it promotes collagen absorption. Squash is also full of potassium, which helps your nerves and muscle communicate better. Try it in an easy shaved salad that’s good year-round, or learn about all the different kinds of winter squash here.

Ashley Brantley

Ashley Brantley has been writing about food, culture and health for more than a decade, and has lived in three of Tennessee’s four major cities (Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville).

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Get more information about specific health terms, topics and conditions to better manage your health on bcbst.com. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee members can access wellness-related discounts on fitness products, gym memberships, healthy eating and more through Blue365®. BCBST members can also find tools and resources to help improve health and well-being by logging into BlueAccess and going to the Managing Your Health tab.

WellTuned provides inspiration and practical advice for healthy living.
WellTuned does not offer medical advice. Any personal health questions should be addressed to your doctor.

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