Beat Depression and Feel Better with More Fruits and Vegetables
According to new research out of the New Zealand's University of Otago, consuming more fruits and vegetables increases calm, happiness, and energy in one's daily life. Perhaps it is the knowledge of eating wholesome, unprocessed foods that fundamentally affects our brains. The body knows that it is doing something right and feels better because of it, both physiologically and mentally. The researchers compared consumption of fruits and vegetables with other types of food, but the difference was clear. To beat depression and increase happiness, fruits and veggies are the way to go.
The study was conducted by Department of Psychology researchers Dr. Tamlin Conner, Bonnie White, and Dr. Caroline Horwath. They tood a sample of 281 young adults with the average age of 20 years.
First, the participants filled out a questionnaire which asked about their background information. Then, they completed an internet-based food diary for 21 consecutive days. Then, using a set of nine positive adjectives and nine negative adjectives, they were asked to rate how they felt each evening.
The online diary asked them to report the number of servings of fruit (excluding fruit juices and dried fruit) and vegetables (excluding juices) they consumed. They were also asked to report consumption of other less healthy foods such as biscuits, cookies, potato crisps, cakes, and muffins.
The evidence was clear that there was a strong correlation between a positive mood and higher fruit and vegetable consumption, and not the other foods.
Further analysis was conducted to see what actually came first, feeling good or eating healthy foods. The researchers found that eating fruits and vegetables predicted improvements in positive mood the next day, regardless of other key factors such as body mass index.
"After further analysis we demonstrated that young people would need to consume approximately seven to eight total servings of fruits and vegetables per day to notice a meaningful positive change. One serving of fruit or vegetables is approximately the size that could fit in your palm, or half a cup. My co-author Bonnie White suggests that this can be done by making half your plate at each meal vegetables and snacking on whole fruit like apples," says Dr Conner.
Bottom line, eating natural foods and avoiding unhealthy processed foods will not only make your body more fit, but will improve your spirits too.
This study has been published in the British Journal of Health Psychology
Kids Eating Apples image via Shutterstock