January 24, 2013
Eating Fruits And Vegetables Improves Our Mind, Makes Us Happier
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
We all know that fruits and vegetables are an important part of our daily diet. Countless studies have shown that these edibles are necessary for maintaining good health throughout life. Some studies have even shown how fruits and vegetables can help us do remarkable things, such as quit smoking. Now, a new study has found that those sweet fruits and crunchy veggies can not only improve our body, but also improve our mind.
A team of researchers from the psychology department at the University of Otago in New Zealand, whose study is published today in the British Journal of Health Psychology, followed 281 young people who kept track of their diets for 21 days.
Prior to the diary-keeping phase, the participants were asked to complete a questionnaire giving details on age, gender, ethnicity, weight and height; those who had a history of an eating disorder were excluded from the study.
The authors, Dr. Tamlin Conner and Bonnie White of the Dept. of Psychology, and Dr. Caroline Horwath from the Dept. of Human Nutrition, discovered that those who ate plenty of fruits and veggies reported feeling calmer, happier and more energized. Those who ate mostly junk food reported no difference in their mood.
On each day of the diary-keeping journey, the participants logged their food intake for the day before bedtime and rated how they felt using nine positive and negative adjectives. The daily write-in also included five questions about what they had eaten that day. They were asked to report the number of servings eaten of fruit, vegetables, and several other foods including biscuits, cookies, chips, cakes and muffins.
The results showed a strong day-to-day relationship between more positive mood and higher fruit and vegetable consumption, but not other foods, the team said.
In a University statement, Conner noted that on the days “when people ate more fruits and vegetables, they reported feeling calmer, happier and more energetic than they normally did.”
Conner said her team ran additional analyses to determine if the eating of fruit and vegetables made them feel more positive or if being positive inspired them to eat more fruits and vegetables. Furthermore, she and her colleagues analyzed data to see if the positive moods carried over into the following day.
"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," said Conner.
“While this research shows a promising connection between healthy foods and healthy moods, further research is necessary such as the development of randomized control trials evaluating the influence of high fruit and vegetable intake on mood and well-being,” Conner concluded.