Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, is a type of depression which affects up to 7% of adults in the UK each year. However, eating fish might be able to help you stay healthy and happy.
Sometimes known as ‘winter depressionn’, SAD is most severe during December, January and February with symptoms improving towards the spring and into the summer. Symptoms can include:
- Feeling lethargic
- Having difficulty waking up
- Feeling low or depressed
- Overeating or craving carbs
- Difficulty concentrating
- Lack of interest in normal activities
Whilst SAD is still not fully understood, it is believed that reduced exposure to sunlight and colder temperatures, typical of the winter season, can contribute to the effects of SAD. Despite this, citizens in Iceland which is located just below the Arctic Circle, report incredibly low cases of SAD. It is possible this is due to genetics but many believe that the Icelandic diet, which includes large amounts of fish, is a contributing factor.
This is because fish and fish oils are a good source of the essential fat, omega-3. Omega-3 fatty acids cannot be produced by the body and therefore have to be consumed in the diet. These fatty acids are believed to help maintain healthy levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is the chemical responsible for making people feel happy and there are a number of studies which argue that the consumption of omega-3 is beneficial for those suffering depression and SAD.
Although there are a lot of foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids, oily fish such as sardines, mackerel and herring contain over 1000 mg per portion. This dose is around double the daily recommended amount making these fish a fantastic addition to your diet. Plus, oily fish has been deemed a superfood due to its ability to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and numerous other health conditions. It’s not hard to get these amazing fish into your diet. Sardines and mackerel can be bought fresh or tinned and used to make a quick balanced meal when served with toast and a side salad. Herring can also be used in a variety of dishes and is easy to fry, grill and bake. All of these fish are also landed frequently at Plymouth Fisheries so you can eat healthily and support the local economy too.
Even if you’re not suffering from SAD it is still recommended that you eat at least two portions of fish each week, with one portion being an oily fish. This is because fish is packed full of beneficial vitamins and minerals and is a low-fat source of protein. So if you want to beat those winter blues and work on reaching your two a week then download our handy free guides for more information on buying and cooking fish.