Benefits of Fruits and Veggies: Well-Being and Also Happiness
Eating a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables is not only good for your body – it is also good for your happiness and well-being.
When we start a new diet, we often think of the physical benefits it will bring – weight loss, lowered blood pressure, decreased fatigue. But have you stopped to think of the positive effects it might have on your emotional state?
There is a link between diet and happiness – and the key lies in our intakes of fruits and vegetables.
New research from the University of Otago in New Zealand have found that young adults who ate extra servings of fruits and veggies each day for 14 days experienced boosts in motivation and vitality. They noted as well improvements in something called “psychological well-being.”
Being psychologically “well” includes six domains:
• The quality of your relationships with others
• A sense of autonomy (being independent, self-reliant)
• Your sense of mastery over the environment (having the resources for coping, adjusting and not being overwhelmed by stress)
• Level of personal growth (moving in a positive direction)
• Having a sense of purpose in life
How are fruits and vegetables linked to positive psychological well-being? It may be that those who eat more produce are more likely to take better care of themselves (mastery over environment). Or it could be that the antioxidants contribute to a sense of optimism, as found in a 2012 study on the positive effects of nutrients found in plant-foods.
The study participants, 171 in all, did not even have to meet the recommended guidelines for produce intake. On average, the young adults ate 3.7 servings per day and saw positive results, likely because this was above what they were previously eating.
It is often recommended by health organizations to eat at least five servings per day of fruits and vegetables, but currently only about one in every 10 Americans meets this goal. Per the CDC, too many of us only eat fruit once a day and vegetables less than twice a day.
Here are some tips for increasing your fruit and vegetable intake:
• Make it convenient – keep chopped vegetables like carrot sticks and celery sticks prepared in the fridge for a grab and go snack.
• Include fruit with breakfast (more than just orange juice – eat a whole fruit on the side such as sliced melon or top your oatmeal/cereal with fresh berries or sliced bananas)
• Have a salad and veggie filled soup at lunch.
• Remember at dinner to make half of your plate non-starchy vegetables
• Have a fruit as a snack at night. If you must have ice cream, at least top it with some fresh strawberries!
Tamlin S. Conner et al. “Let them eat fruit! The effect of fruit and vegetable consumption on psychological well-being in young adults: A randomized controlled trial.” PLOS One, February 3 2017
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By NobbiP - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons