5 Christmas Foods That Make Your Brain Happy & Your Taste Buds Even Happier
'Tis the season, folks. It's officially the time of year when gingerbread cookies, mugs full of hot cocoa and marshmallows, and all of the pot roast you can devour take center stage. TBH, all Christmas foods really make my heart happy, not to mention my stomach, but it turns out that a lot of Christmas foods can make your brain happy, too — like, literally. These tasty eats are sure to satisfy your tastebuds and give your mind an extra boost at the same time. What could be better, right?
While taking care of your brain is important, it's just as crucial to not lose sight of the actual joy of eating during the holidays. In other words, if your favorite Christmas dish didn't make this list, you can and definitely should still enjoy it to your heart's content. "Holiday foods can definitely bring joy and happiness," Cindy Dallow, PhD, RD, a sports dietitian and certified intuitive eating counselor, tells Elite Daily in an email. "It's important to include food that makes you happy during the holidays, especially if you're feeling blue." For me, that's savory cornbread with plenty of herbs and olive oil.
Bring together your friends and family, cook up a few of these spectacular treats, and enjoy the brain-boosting benefits.
Snack on smoked salmon
If your family likes to lay out a platter of smoked fish in the morning to kick off a day of holiday festivities, then you're in luck. "Fatty fish like salmon, trout, and sardines are among the highest natural dietary sources of omega 3s," says Katherine Brooking, MS, a registered dietitian based in New York.
Omega 3s are great for keeping your mind sharp and healthy, Brooking tells Elite Daily, so snack on all of the salmon puffs.
Warm up with some lentil soup
With treats like mashed potatoes fighting for a spot on your holiday dinner plate, you might be quick to overlook some of the comforting stews of the season. But these bean-rich dishes are great for not only keeping your brain sharp, says Rachel Fine MS, RD, CSSD, CDN, a registered dietitian and owner of To The Pointe Nutrition, but even your mood, too.
"Emerging research shows that our gut bacteria (sometimes referred to as the microbiome) may play a role in our mood hormones," Fine tells Elite Daily. "Plant-based sources like beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and unprocessed whole grains are your best bet."
Enjoy all of the roasted Brussels sprouts
Now that I am officially an adult, I have to admit that I am a huge fan of roasted Brussels sprouts. Sprinkled with plenty of good olive oil and sea salt (and bacon if you eat meat, because yum), these tiny veggies can satisfy both your palate and your brain.
"Brussels sprouts are a fantastic traditional holiday dish that packs a ton of vitamins C and K, fiber, [and] potassium," says Holly Harding, an integrative nutrition health coach and founder of O’o Hawaii. "They help give you energy and include antioxidants which are great for brain health."
Cook up some roasted chestnuts
Roasted chestnuts don't just have a place in jolly Christmas songs. I actually tried the delicacy for the first time myself last winter, and boy are they delicious.
"[Chestnuts] provide B vitamins that help improve mood and brain function, as well as magnesium," Jessica Rosen, certified holistic health coach and co-founder of Raw Generation, tells Elite Daily. "Increasing magnesium levels helps improve cognitive function."
Just be extra careful to let these bad boys cool a bit before enjoying, because in my experience at least, they have a habit of burning your tongue.
Pour plenty of hot chocolate
Is there anything better than sipping hot cocoa in front of a crackling fire? Nope. No there is not.
Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants, which help protect against brain decline, Rosen explains. Plus, the delicious treat not only helps to boost endorphins, she adds, but it also contributes to a positive mood, so sip away, my friend.