Including fruit and vegetables in your diet can already help to reduce the risk of developing cancer or cardiovascular disease, but now it might just make you happy too!
New research suggests that eating up to eight servings of fresh produce per day could see you smiling more within two years.
Are you eating enough fruits and vegetables?
If you’re not yet getting up to eight servings a day, you are not alone!
According to the Center for Disease Control, only 1 in 10 Americans eats enough fruit and vegetables, with just 13% eating an average of 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit daily, a guideline set by the federal dietary guidelines. Less than 9% of Americans eat 2-3 cups of vegetables per day.
Scientists from the Universities of Queensland in Australia and Warwick in the U.K. studied the food diaries of 12385 Australian adults, which were all randomly chosen and had their psychological wellbeing taken into account. Changes in finances and personal circumstances were discounted as influencers of mood changes during the study.
The findings revealed that as much as 85% of adults ate fewer than 3 servings of fruit per day and that 60% had fewer than 3 servings of vegetables. Only 1.83% of people ate more than 5 servings of fruit, on average, and 7.75% ate more than five servings of vegetables.
The study, which will be published in the American Journal of Public Health in August, found that adding extra portions of fruit and vegetables had a remarkable effect on mood, especially when including up to 8 servings per day.
How happy can it make you?
The researchers concluded that those who went from eating less than 3 servings of fresh produce per day up to 8 servings per day would see a significant mood lift within 2 years.
Andrew Oswald, professor of economics & behavioral science at the University of Warwick, says: “People’s motivation to eat healthy food is weakened by the fact that physical health benefits, such as protecting against cancer, accrue decades later. However, wellbeing improvements from an increased consumption of fruit and vegetables are closer to being immediate.”
Why does it have an effect on mood?
Researchers are speculating that there is a link between the level of antioxidants and mood improvement, with the high level of carotenoids associated with eating fruits and vegetables.
Carotenoids are the organic pigments that give fruit and vegetables their color, ranging from red, orange, yellow, green, and purple. With a change in lifestyle, the increase in fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and carotenoids could be the reason for the lift in mood, with a healthy body leading to a healthier mind in general. However, researchers say that more studies will be conducted on this.