Autumn is full of warm colors, cooler weather and festive holiday meals.
But as the days get shorter and the winter months approaching, you may feel the edges of the seasonal blues.
This is a great time to look after your sanity.
And you're in luck: pumpkins, spices and spuds, which are now seasonal, are not only good for your table, but also for your brain.
Dietitian and blogger Abbey Sharpe of Abbey's Kitchen told Daily Mail Online which foods protect your mental health and increase your mood in the fall.
1. ACORN SQUASH KEEPS YOUR CELLS SAFE FROM FREE RADICALS
This hearty pumpkin was the first crop of Native Americans.
It's a bit difficult to work with, but has become an autumn favorite in the US.
It also has a protective effect on your cells and fights aging in your body and brain.
Nutty, tasty acorn squash contains antioxidants and magnesium for depression
"Acorn gourd is one of the best sources of the antioxidant beta-carotene, an antioxidant that protects our cells and DNA from damage," says Abbey.
In our cell processes there are by-products called free radicals. The stress and damage that these unstable compounds have for the cells is called oxidative stress.
The older we get, the more oxidation builds up and damages our cells, and this damage can contribute to the development of mental and emotional disorders.
"Antioxidants from fruit and vegetable intake were lower in people with late-life depression! It is also rich in magnesium, which can be associated with a decrease in depressive symptoms, "says Abbey.
2. AN APPLE DAY HELPS ALZHEIMER OFF
The apple picking season is just over, so it's time to prepare a cake, make a cake or just have a lunchtime snack.
And the saying "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" was not without reason a cliché.
The American fruit is low in calories but contains a high dose of fiber, potassium and vitamins A, B, E and K.
Acetylcholine in apples helps to keep the mind healthy, to keep the mood stable and to protect against Alzheimer's
Like pumpkin, apples contain antioxidants – actually a whole lot of strong ones.
"Apples contain a rich source of antioxidants that play a protective role against neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's disease," says Abbey.
They are also rich in acetylcholine, which can also help protect your brain from mental deterioration.
Plus, fiber is not only beneficial for your overall digestion, but also helps stabilize your blood sugar, which in turn helps keep your mood stable.
3. A PUMPKIN TUBE COULD INCREASE SEROTONINE TO SELECT YOUR MOOD
Pumpkins make not only well carved, decorative heads, but also the head.
Most importantly, pumpkin promotes the production of serotonin in the brain. Pumpkin contains the same hormone – tryptophan – that makes us tired after a turkey meal.
Serotonin helps us to stabilize body and mind. The neurotransmitter plays a crucial role in keeping our digestion and moods stable and promoting a sense of overall wellbeing.
Go by, turkey: Pumpkin contains plenty of tryptophan, the sleepy amino acid found in turkey. Tryptophan plays a crucial role in serotonin production, which stabilizes mood
Tryptophan, in which the pumpkins are rich, is the key component of serotonin production.
"Pumpkin also contains two key antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin, which play a role in overall cognitive health," said Abbey.
"A recent study from 2017 has shown that these antioxidants improve overall memory and cognitive health in older adults."
4. THE REAL ZEN-POWER OF PUMPKINS IS IN TRYPTOPHAN-LOADED SEEDS
The pumpkin meat contains the healthy amino acid, the seeds of the pumpkins lie where the maternal charge lies.
In 100 grams of pumpkin seeds – about two-thirds of a cup – are about 1,000 grams of tryptophan.
This is a low calorie method to get as much tryptophan as in a turkey breast.
"Tryptophan, which has been shown to reduce depressive symptoms and reduce anxiety," says Abbey.
"Pumpkin seeds also contain zinc, which can act directly on the brain and play an important role in learning and memory," she adds.
5. TRENDY SPICE TURMERIC MAKES YOUR SILENCE FURTHER
Turmeric is currently the craze for both your curry and your health.
The spice has always been popular in Southeast Asian cuisine, but lately it has become an absolute health fashion.
Some have promoted it to treat cancer or to treat Alzheimer's, but the claims are not really substantiated by science.
But it also contains antioxidants and may have anti-inflammatory effects.
Turmeric is trendy because it supposedly does everything – but its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects can really help your mind
These two qualities were the initial basis for the meteoric rise of the spice and they have benefits for the whole body.
This includes the effects on the brain.
Inflammation is thought to contribute to mood swings and depression. Spices or snacks that can reduce swelling can also help mental health
"Curcumin, which is found in turmeric and indicates its yellow color, could play a role in preventing memory problems," says Abbey.
6. Butternut Squash is gold for fighting DNA damage in the brain
This pumpkin may be unwieldy for cube, roast or puree, but its mental benefits may be worth the effort.
"Butternut squash is chalky with antioxidants like beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E, which can play an important role in improving anxiety and depression, Abbey says.
The key is in its iconic color.
The orange color of the butternut squash signals its carotene content. Higher antioxidants have also been associated with lower rates of depression
Carotene, a potent antioxidant found in orange fruits and vegetables like this pumpkin and carrot, has proven to be particularly important for mental health.
In a study of nearly 1,800 individuals, patients with high circulating cortical blood levels were 37 percent less likely to have depression than those with lower levels of carotenoids.
And when more carotene was added to their diets, people's symptoms of depression seemed to be getting milder.
7. YOU CAN TURN THE MENTAL BENEFITS IN FLAVONOIDES OF BRUSSEL SPROUTS
These savory sprouts "contain the antioxidant kaempferol and may have an antidepressant effect, according to an animal study," said Abbey.
Kaempferoli is a flavonoid found in coarser green leafy vegetables.
The research on Kaempferoli is still in the making, but looks promising so far. Some studies have shown that this not only brings flavor but also potential health benefits such as fighting inflammation and possibly overweight and cancer.
In animal studies, a group of stressed mice received kaempferol doses, and the substance appeared to calm the anxious animals.
But Abbey reminds us, "More research is needed before we can make a clear connection."
8. GET A LOW SUGAR INFUSION OF VITAMIN C FROM SWEET POTATOES TO FEEL THROUGH
Sugary orange juice was once touted as a guide to vitamin C.
This has now been debunked, but there is another sweet way to get the nutrient: Spuds.
Sugar can actually contribute to mood instability as you go through the wave of sugar highs and falls.
Instead of drinking sugary orange juices to raise the vitamin C level, drink a yam. Sweet potatoes contain vitamins B6 and C, which both stabilize the mood
Sweet potatoes, on the other hand, "are rich in antioxidants, including vitamin C. At least one study found that high vitamin C status was associated with an improved overall mood," says Abbey.
Yams are also rich in B6, from which a low level can contribute to mood swings.
Between these seven ingredients, there is plenty of mentally healthy food that you can put on your plate this fall.