The Effects of Fruits and Vegetables on Happiness
Most people know they can promote better physical health by eating vegetables and fruit. Now, a new study suggests this dietary strategy could also create a healthier mind. If you're looking for a natural way to ward off depression and improve overall well-being, learn how fruit effects the mind and vegetables impact emotions.
Recently, researchers from England's Warwick University teamed with scientists from the University of Queensland in Australia to assess a potential correlation between diet and life satisfaction. Appearing in the American Journal of Public Health, their study indicates that eating fruits and vegetables can have big psychological effects that promote better well-being.
To reach their findings, the team analyzed mood and food journals of more than 12,000 subjects. After adjusting the data for personal circumstances, income and issues that could impact life satisfaction, the researchers found that fruit and vegetable consumption was predictive of increased well-being and overall happiness.
Why the Correlations?
While they can't say for certain, the scientists had a number of theories that might explain the link between fruit and vegetable consumption and improved mood. One relates to antioxidants, which have been linked to improved well-being. At least one other study has shown a link between carotenoids and optimism. At the same time, it's not clear whether carotenoid-rich foods spurred optimism, or if naturally optimistic people tend to eat more carotenoid-rich foods.
Are Fruits and Vegetables the Cause?
While there does appear to be a strong link between fruit and vegetable consumption and positive well-being, some have questioned the causal relationship. For instance, it may be that happier people just tend to eat healthier. At the same time, this recent study does seem to point toward a causal relationship, since mood journals seemed to reflect positive changes that correlated to changes in dietary habits reported in food journals. What's more, that psychological changes appeared to happen relatively quickly compared to physical changes, which can often take years to develop. According to the researchers, the potential for quick results could be used to help urge the public to adopt healthier diets.
It's not yet clear whether fruit and vegetable consumption spurs happiness because of antioxidants, improved self-esteem or something else entirely. That said, this recent study does seem to show that healthy diets do improve mental well-being. While the exact reason may not be clear, experts can definitively say that what we eat does play a role in how we feel, physically and emotionally.