Can eating fruit and vegetables really make you happier?

Healthy Food Makes You Happy: Research Shows A Healthy Diet Improves Your Mental Health

Can eating fruit and vegetables really make you happier?

Depression has many origins: it is genetic, triggered by a specific event, certain circumstances or lifestyle choices. But it is a disease of the brain, and researchers find that ensuring it receives the proper nutrients is a way to prevent and treat depression.

In the future patients experiencing depression may not only be referenced to a therapist, but a nutritionist as well.

It has long been understood that fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean, unprocessed proteins are the best foods for our daily diet, but only over the last 10 years or so have studies begun to show that healthy eating impacts not only our physical health, but our mental health as well.

And an unhealthy diet—high in trans fats, sugar and processed and refined foods—increases risk for depression, especially in children and teens because it deprives the brain of the nutrients it needs, and breeds bad bacteria in the gut, which impacts our mental and physical health.

A trial conducted by epidemiologist Felice Jacka of Deakin University in Australia, set out to measure the therapeutic impact of a healthy diet. The study consisted of 67 subjects with depression, some of whom were receiving psychotherapy, some of whom were taking antidepressants and some with both.

Half were given nutritional counseling, the other half were given one-on-one social support, someone to keep them company and engage in social activities with- known to help people with depression. After 12 weeks, the group that changed their diet felt significantly happier than the group that received additional companionship.

The study was published in January 2017 in BMC Medicine. Prof. Jacka explains,

Whole (unprocessed) diets higher in plant foods, healthy forms of protein and fats are consistently associated with better mental health outcomes.

These diets are also high in fiber, which is essential for gut microbiota.

We’re increasingly understanding that the gut is really the driver of health, including mental health, so keeping fiber intake high through the consumption of plant foods is very important.”

A second study from the University of Konstanz in Germany drew similar conclusions, finding that consuming vegetables led to a higher level of happiness over time than sugar or unhealthy food induces in the moment. In a study with 14 different food categories, eating vegetables “contributed the largest share to eating happiness” measured over eight days.

And on average, sweets only provided “induced eating happiness” in comparison to an overall healthy diet.

“Thus, the findings support the notion that fruit and vegetable consumption has beneficial effects on different indicators of well-being, such as happiness or general life satisfaction, across a broad range of time spans,” writes the Department of Psychology from the University of Konstanz.

So what should we eat? Research suggests a Mediterranean-style diet made up of fruits, vegetables, extra-virgin olive oil, yogurt and cheese, nuts, whole grains, seafood and lean red meat, and eliminate fried and processed foods. The diet provides the nutrition our brain needs and supports good bacteria in the gut.


Fruit and veggies give you the feel-good factor

Can eating fruit and vegetables really make you happier?

University of Warwick research indicates that eating more fruit and vegetables can substantially increase people's later happiness levels.

To be published shortly in the American Journal of Public Health, the study is one of the first major scientific attempts to explore psychological well-being beyond the traditional finding that fruit and vegetables can reduce risk of cancer and heart attacks.

Happiness benefits were detected for each extra daily portion of fruit and vegetables up to 8 portions per day.

The researchers concluded that people who changed from almost no fruit and veg to eight portions of fruit and veg a day would experience an increase in life satisfaction equivalent to moving from unemployment to employment. The well-being improvements occurred within 24 months.


The study followed more than 12,000 randomly selected people. These subjects kept food diaries and had their psychological well-being measured. The authors found large positive psychological benefits within two years of an improved diet.

Professor Andrew Oswald said: “Eating fruit and vegetables apparently boosts our happiness far more quickly than it improves human health.

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, well-being improvements from increased consumption of fruit and vegetables are closer to immediate.”

The work is a collaboration between the University of Warwick, England and the University of Queensland, Australia. The researchers found that happiness increased incrementally for each extra daily portion of fruit and vegetables up to eight portions per day.

The study involved an examination of longitudinal food diaries of 12,385 randomly sampled Australian adults over 2007, 2009, and 2013 in the Household, Income, and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey.

The authors adjusted the effects on incident changes in happiness and life satisfaction for people's changing incomes and personal circumstances.

Western diet

The study has policy implications, particularly in the developed world where the typical citizen eats an unhealthy diet. The findings could be used by health professionals to persuade people to consume more fruits and vegetables.

Dr Redzo Mujcic, research fellow at the University of Queensland, said: “Perhaps our results will be more effective than traditional messages in convincing people to have a healthy diet. There is a psychological payoff now from fruit and vegetables — not just a lower health risk decades later.”

The authors found that alterations in fruit and vegetable intake were predictive of later alterations in happiness and satisfaction with life.

They took into account many other influences, including changes in people's incomes and life circumstances. One part of the study examined information from the Australian Go for 2&5 Campaign.

The campaign was run in some Australian states which have promoted the consumption of two portions of fruit and five portions of vegetables each day.


The academics think it may be possible eventually to link this study to current research into antioxidants which suggests a connection between optimism and carotenoid in the blood. However they argue that further research is needed in this area.

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Can eating fruit and vegetables have an impact on your mood?

Can eating fruit and vegetables really make you happier?

Fruit and vegetables have the following benefits to offer:

  • They are packed with essential vitamins and minerals: You need to obtain essential vitamins and minerals from your diet as your body can’t make them. These are vital for many bodily processes. Some of the vitamins are also classed as antioxidants, including vitamin C and vitamin E which help to protect your cells from damaging free radicals. These are particularly beneficial for the cells of our skin and blood vessels. The acerola cherry is a particularly high source of vitamin C and contains natural bioflavonoids which help to support the absorption of this important antioxidant
  • They are high in dietary fibre: Dietary fibre helps support the health of your digestive system and is particularly effective in helping with constipation and in some cases irritable bowel syndrome, (IBS). Fibre also helps in blood sugar regulation and potentially weight management
  • They can help lower the risk of disease and even death: This is becoming more readily accepted, although, we are continually trying to better understand what amounts are required to achieve such positive effects and the benefits certain types of fruit or veggies can have over others. New benefits are constantly being uncovered as we conduct more research. 

Most of you should be aware that you should aim to eat five 80g portions of fruit or vegetables every day. But this a minimum recommendation, with an ‘adequate quantity’ of 400g per day being set as it is considered to be an achievable target… but, should you actually be eating even more? Are there additional benefits to be aware of?

Possibly so! Research has suggested that eating as many as seven to ten portions of fruit and vegetables every day can have additional benefits and it seems the more portions you eat – the greater the health benefits.  

As well as the direct health benefits of eating your ‘5-a-day’, by incorporating fresh fruit and vegetables into your diet it is ly you are replacing unhealthier options with these nutrient-packed choices. By opting for fresh fruit and vegetables you are more ly to be consuming less processed dishes and therefore less refined carbohydrates, sugar, salt and unhealthy fats.

In recent years we have become obsessed by a category of foods called superfoods. Superfoods often fall into the fruit and veg category and are regarded to be ‘especially beneficial for health or wellbeing.

’ As with most fruit and vegetables, superfoods contain vitamins and minerals which we need.

However, these foods are special in that they often contain particularly high amounts or an impressive array of essential amino acids, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants packed in the one remarkable food.

As a result of their unique nutritional composition, superfoods have often been used traditionally in natural medicine and are frequently subject to research as it is believed they can offer some therapeutic effect (for example sulforaphane found in broccoli sprouts) beyond that of your average fruit or vegetable. Therefore, they can be a nice addition to your daily diet as many people are discovering.

These foods are examples of our advances in understanding how different types of fruit or vegetable can offer additional health benefits in comparison to others. Exciting!

What are the long-term benefits of eating more fruit and veg?

The long-term benefits of consuming adequate amounts of fruit and vegetables are well established. The protective effect of fruit and vegetables on cardiovascular disease has been shown in many large scale studies.

Some studies have shown a modest reduction in the risk of certain types of cancer but the results in this area are less clear. Consumption has also been shown to help reduce the risk of general death (all-cause mortality).

Generally, the risk of death in all categories decreases as the number of portions increases. This means the more fruit and vegetables you pack in the more you can reap the benefits!

Another important observation is that it appears that vegetables are more protective than fruit. In an analysis of Health Survey for England data1, the order of protective effects from most to least was: vegetables, salad, fresh fruit and finally dried fruit. Frozen and canned fruit were not found to be significantly protective.

The study also showed that the positive effects were independent of other dietary factors meaning the positive effects appeared to be down to the fruit and vegetables themselves rather than being as a result of the subjects consuming less unhealthy choices – interesting!

Although the exact mechanisms for the protective effects of fruit and vegetables aren’t always clear cut, the fibre, potassium, magnesium, folate, antioxidants (including vitamin C, vitamins E and carotenoids and flavonoids), sugar (being low) and flavonoid content in particular are thought to have a pivotal role in exerting such positive effects.

Are there any shorter-term benefits?

There is sufficient research out there for us to agree that the consumption of fruit and vegetables over a lifetime can have beneficial outcomes in terms of disease and death – but generally we assume we have to wait years to feel the benefits.

However, a new study2 has sparked some interest as it supports the proposal that the consumption of fruit and vegetables may also be favourable in the short-term rather than just over longer periods of time – they could be making you happier!

This study was conducted on 12,000 people over a period of 2 years and adds some value to a small set of data already out there suggesting fruit and vegetable intake is positively associated with our mental wellbeing.

As the study was conducted over a period of 2 years, it makes it appropriate to assume that the positive effects were apparent before any of the long-term health benefits were evident such as the relative risk on disease or mortality.

This is an exciting prospect; it means that the benefits of consuming fruit and vegetables may be seen much quicker than previously assumed and the positive effects may be reaching new areas of your body such as the brain.

Scores of life satisfaction were found to gradually increase as the consumption of fruit and vegetables did. If we reconsider the recommended portions of fruit and vegetables – it gives us reason to believe that those five portions can definitely be considered ‘adequate’ but look at what happens if you eat up to eight! Those veggies are sounding quite appealing now!

What is it in plants that could be making us happy?

So is it possible, fruit, vegetables and superfoods can affect your mental wellbeing? It’s looking ly! Fruit and vegetables contain an array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which can have effects on many parts of the body, including the brain.

The Mediterranean diet has long been known as one of the healthiest ways to eat. This diet is associated with a particularly high consumption of fruit and vegetables and healthy fats. Research has shown3 that people on the highest third of Mediterranean diet versus those on the lowest have a 98% reduced risk of suffering from depression.

It is thought that the healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in the nuts, seeds and fish which are readily consumed (as opposed to saturated fats from meat) is thought to have some impact.

The flavonoids and B vitamins from the copious amounts of fruit, vegetables and legumes are also thought to have significant effects on low mood.   

It is important to mention that certain herbs are also effective in supporting our mood, such as St. John’s wort (Hypericum). St.

John’s wort has an active ingredient called hyperforin which has positive effects on neurotransmitters in the brain, including serotonin (this is known as the feel-good neurotransmitter).

Flavonoids in Hypericum support the uptake and action of hyperforin and this is a lovely example of how constituents of whole plants work in synergy to exert positive effects on our health.

Does fresh really matter?

It is worth mentioning that fruit and vegetables in their different states may be more beneficial than others. We believe fresh is always best (we pride ourselves in taking this approach in our very own products) and opt for organic too wherever possible.

Tinned fruit and vegetables, although not as badly affected as canned pasta or soups, are more ly to be contaminated with a chemical called Bisphenol A (BPA) due to their packaging.

 Early exposure to BPA has been linked to higher rates of anxiety and depression in later in life as it interacts with hormones in the body.

So, try and opt for the fresh options wherever possible and get experimental by incorporating them into a variety of tasty dishes.

Tips and recipes for upping your intake!

So how can you begin increasing your consumption of fruit and vegetables and in a bid to feel happier!? We include some hassle-free, veggie-packed recipes below for you to try out:

1. Oyebode et al. (2014) Fruit and vegetable consumption and all-cause, cancer and CVD mortality: analysis of Health survey for England data. J Epidemiol Community Health, doi:10.1136/jech-2013-203500

2. Mujcic and Oswald (2016) Evolution of well-being and happiness after increases in the consumption of fruit and vegetables. Am J Public Health, 106(8): 1504-10

3. Skarupski, K.A. et al. (2013) Mediterranean diet and depressive symptoms among older adults over time. 17(5): 441-445

Ready to try something new? Watch Emma's recipe video for a delicious Fermented Tomato Ketchup!

Get the recipe

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Carbohydrates have a bad reputation, but eating the right kinds can actually be great for weight management!

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Eating More Fruits & Veggies May Make You Happier

Can eating fruit and vegetables really make you happier?

Eating fruits and vegetables may help you feel happier, a new study from Australia suggests.

Researchers found that people who switched from eating almost no fruit and vegetables in their daily diets to eating eight portions of fruit and vegetables a day experienced an increase in life satisfaction equivalent to what an unemployed person feels after finding a job.

The improvements in the people's life satisfaction occurred within two years of the changes to their diets. [6 Easy Ways to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables]

“Eating fruit and vegetables apparently boosts our happiness far more quickly than it improves human health,” study co-author Redzo Mujcic, a health economics research fellow at the University of Queensland in Australia, said in a statement.

Previous research has shown that eating more fruits and vegetables leads to improvements in people's physical health, but these benefits typically occur over longer periods of time, the researchers said.

“People's motivation to eat healthy food is weakened by the fact that physical-health benefits, such as protecting against cancer, accrue decades later,” Mujcic said.  In contrast, improvements in psychological well-being may happen faster, he added.

In the study, researchers looked at more than 12,000 people in Australia, following them for two years. The researchers asked the people whether they normally ate fruit and vegetables, and how much they ate.

Investigators also asked the study participants how satisfied they were with their lives, on a scale from 0 to 10.

The researchers then tracked the people's diets, including whether they had increased their consumption of fruits and vegetables during the study period, and their life satisfaction levels for two years.

Results showed that in the people who began eating more fruit and vegetables per day during the study period, the levels of life satisfaction increased by the end of the study.  

The relationship between higher levels of life satisfaction and increased fruit and vegetable intake persisted even after the researchers accounted for changes in the people's income or other life circumstances, according to the study, which will be published in the August issue of the American Journal of Public Health. And previous research has suggested that it isn't ly that the link works the other way — that people who start feeling happier start eating more fruits and vegetables, the researchers said.

It is not clear why eating more fruit and vegetables would be linked to greater levels of life satisfaction, the researchers said.

However, previous research has suggested that greater levels of pigments called carotenoids, found in some fruits and veggies such as carrots, are linked to higher levels of optimism.

Studies have also suggested that an increased intake of vitamin B12, also present in fruits and vegetables, may boost a neurotransmitter in the brain called serotonin, which plays a role in regulating mood, the researchers said.

The new findings may help doctors convince people to eat more fruits and vegetables, Mujcic said. “Perhaps our results will be more effective than traditional messages in convincing people to have a healthy diet,” he said. “There is a psychological payoff now from fruit and vegetables, not just a lower health risk decades later.”

“The results showed that there was a direct impact in terms of the amount of fruits and vegetables someone had and their overall well-being,” said Antonella Apicella, nutritionist at Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City, who was not involved in the study. The relationship between nutrition and emotional health is a new, hot research topic that should be studied further in the future, she said.

Originally published on Live Science.


Mood Food: 9 Foods That Can Really Boost Your Spirits

Can eating fruit and vegetables really make you happier?
Written by Katey Davidson, MScFN, RD on February 5, 2020

When you’re feeling down, it can be tempting to turn to food to lift your spirits. However, the sugary, high calorie treats that many people resort to have negative consequences of their own.

Thus, you may wonder whether any healthy foods can improve your mood.

Recently, research on the relationship between nutrition and mental health has been emerging. Yet, it’s important to note that mood can be influenced by many factors, such as stress, environment, poor sleep, genetics, mood disorders, and nutritional deficiencies (1, 2, 3).

Therefore, it’s difficult to accurately determine whether food can raise your spirits (4).

Nonetheless, certain foods have been shown to improve overall brain health and certain types of mood disorders.

Here are 9 healthy foods that may boost your mood.

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Omega-3 fatty acids are a group of essential fats that you must obtain through your diet because your body can’t produce them on its own.

Fatty fish salmon and albacore tuna are rich in two types of omega-3s — docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) — that are linked to lower levels of depression (5, 6, 7).

Omega-3s contribute to the fluidity of your brain’s cell membrane and appear to play key roles in brain development and cell signaling (5, 6, 7).

While research is mixed, one review of clinical trials showed that in some studies, consuming omega-3’s in the form of fish oil lower depression scores (8).

Although there’s no standard dose, most experts agree that most adults should get at least 250–500 mg of combined EPA and DHA per day (9).

Given that a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of salmon provides 2,260 mg of EPA and DHA, eating this fish a few times per week is a great way to get these fats into your diet (10).


Fatty fish salmon are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may lower your risk of depression.

Chocolate is rich in many mood-boosting compounds.

Its sugar may improve mood since it’s a quick source of fuel for your brain (11, 12).

Furthermore, it may release a cascade of feel-good compounds, such as caffeine, theobromine, and N-acylethanolamine — a substance chemically similar to cannabinoids that has been linked to improved mood (11, 12).

However, some experts debate whether chocolate contains enough of these compounds to trigger a psychological response (11, 12).

Regardless, it’s high in health-promoting flavonoids, which have been shown to increase blood flow to your brain, reduce inflammation, and boost brain health, all of which may support mood regulation (11, 13).

Finally, chocolate has a high hedonic rating, meaning that its pleasurable taste, texture, and smell may also promote good mood (7, 8).

Because milk chocolate contains added ingredients sugar and fat, it’s best to opt for dark chocolate — which is higher in flavonoids and lower in added sugar. You should still stick to 1–2 small squares (of 70% or more cocoa solids) at a time since it’s a high calorie food.


Dark chocolate is rich in compounds that may increase feel-good chemicals in your brain.

Fermented foods, which include kimchi, yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and sauerkraut, may improve gut health and mood.

The fermentation process allows live bacteria to thrive in foods that are then able to convert sugars into alcohol and acids (14).

During this process, probiotics are created. These live microorganisms support the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut and may increase serotonin levels (15, 16).

It’s important to note that not all fermented foods are significant sources of probiotics, such as in the case of beer, some breads, and wine, due to cooking and filtering.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that affects many facets of human behavior, such as mood, stress response, appetite, and sexual drive. Up to 90% of your body’s serotonin is produced by your gut microbiome, or the collection of healthy bacteria in your gut (15, 16, 17, 18).

In addition, the gut microbiome plays a role in brain health. Research is beginning to show a connection between healthy gut bacteria and lower rates of depression (16, 18, 19).

Still, more research is needed to understand how probiotics may regulate mood (18).


Since up to 90% of your body’s serotonin is produced in your gut, a healthy gut may correspond to a good mood. Fermented foods kimchi, yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and sauerkraut are rich in probiotics that support gut health.

Bananas may help turn a frown upside down.

They’re high in vitamin B6, which helps synthesize feel-good neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin (20).

Furthermore, one large banana (136 grams) provides 16 grams of sugar and 3.5 grams of fiber (21).

When paired with fiber, sugar is released slowly into your bloodstream, allowing for stable blood sugar levels and better mood control. Blood sugar levels that are too low may lead to irritability and mood swings (22).

Finally, this ubiquitous tropical fruit, especially when still showing green on the peel, is an excellent source of prebiotics, a type of fiber that helps feed healthy bacteria in your gut. A robust gut microbiome is associated with lower rates of mood disorders (23).


Bananas are a great source of natural sugar, vitamin B6, and prebiotic fiber, which work together to keep your blood sugar levels and mood stable.

Oats are a whole grain that can keep you in good spirits all morning. You can enjoy them in many forms, such as overnight oats, oatmeal, muesli, and granola.

They’re an excellent source of fiber, providing 8 grams in a single raw cup (81 grams) (24).

Fiber helps slow your digestion of carbs, allowing for a gradual release of sugar into the bloodstream to keep your energy levels stable.

In one study, those who ate 1.5–6 grams of fiber at breakfast reported better mood and energy levels. This was attributed to more stable blood sugar levels, which is important for controlling mood swings and irritability (22, 25).

Although other sources of whole grains can have this effect, oats may be especially advantageous, as they’re also a great source of iron, with 1 raw cup (81 grams) boasting 19% of your daily needs (24).

Iron deficiency anemia, one of the most common nutrient deficiencies, is associated with low iron intake. Its symptoms include fatigue, sluggishness, and mood disorders (26, 27).

Some research suggests that people experience improvements in these symptoms after eating iron-rich foods or supplementing with iron, but more research is needed (28).


Oats provide fiber that can stabilize your blood sugar levels and boost your mood. They’re also high in iron, which may improve mood symptoms in those with iron deficiency anemia.

Curiously, eating more fruits and vegetables is linked to lower rates of depression (29, 30).

Although the mechanism isn’t clear, a diet rich in antioxidants may help manage inflammation associated with depression and other mood disorders (31).

Berries pack a wide range of antioxidants and phenolic compounds, which play a key role in combatting oxidative stress — an imbalance of harmful compounds in your body (31).

They’re particularly high in anthocyanins, a pigment that gives certain berries their purple-blue color. One study associated a diet rich in anthocyanins with a 39% lower risk of depression symptoms (32).

If you can’t find them fresh, try buying frozen berries — which are frozen at their peak ripeness to retain the maximum amount of antioxidants (33).


Berries are rich in disease-fighting anthocyanins, which may lower your risk of depression.

Nuts and seeds are high in plant-based proteins, healthy fats, and fiber.

Additionally, they provide tryptophan, an amino acid responsible for producing mood-boosting serotonin. Almonds, cashews, peanuts, and walnuts, as well as pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower seeds, are excellent sources (34).

Moreover, nuts and seeds are a large component of both the MIND and Mediterranean diets, which may support a healthy brain. Each of these diets promotes fresh, whole foods and limits your intake of processed items (35, 36, 37, 38).

What’s more, a 10-year study in 15,980 people linked moderate nut intake to a 23% lower risk of depression (39).

Finally, certain nuts and seeds, such as Brazil nuts, almonds, and pine nuts, are good sources of zinc and selenium. Deficiency in these minerals, which are important for brain function, is associated with higher rates of depression — although more research is needed (40).


Certain nuts and seeds are high in tryptophan, zinc, and selenium, which may support brain function and lower your risk of depression.

Coffee is the world’s most popular drink, and it may make the world a bit happier, too.

The caffeine in coffee prevents a naturally occurring compound called adenosine from attaching to brain receptors that promote tiredness, therefore increasing alertness and attention (41).

Moreover, it increases the release of mood-boosting neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and norepinephrine (42).

A study in 72 people found that both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee significantly improved mood compared with a placebo beverage, suggesting that coffee contains other compounds that influence mood (42).

Researchers attributed this boost in attitude to various phenolic compounds, such as chlorogenic acid. Still, more research is needed (42).


Coffee provides numerous compounds, including caffeine and chlorogenic acid, that may boost your mood. Research suggests that decaf coffee may even have an effect.

In addition to being high in fiber and plant-based protein, beans and lentils are full of feel-good nutrients.

They’re an excellent source of B vitamins, which help improve mood by increasing levels of neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), all of which are important for regulating mood (43, 44, 45).

Furthermore, B vitamins play a key role in nerve signaling, which allows proper communication between nerve cells. Low levels of these vitamins, especially B12 and folate, have been linked to mood disorders, such as depression (45).

Finally, they’re a good source of zinc, magnesium, selenium, and non-heme iron, which may wise elevate your spirits (43, 44, 45).


Beans and lentils are rich sources of mood-boosting nutrients, particularly B vitamins.

When feeling blue, you may crave calorie-rich, high sugar foods ice cream or cookies to try to lift your spirits.

While this might give you a sugar rush, it’s unly to help you in the long term — and may have negative consequences as well.

Instead, you should aim for wholesome foods that have been shown to not only boost your mood but also your overall health. Try out some of the foods above to kick-start your positivity routine.


Could More Fruits, Vegetables Make You Happier?

Can eating fruit and vegetables really make you happier?

From the WebMD Archives

July 14, 2016 — Eating up to eight servings of fruit and vegetables a day could make you feel happier, new research suggests.

Experts have long recommended a diet with lots of fruits and vegetables to help guard against cancer and heart disease. But, researchers say, it’s hard to persuade people to eat more fruits and vegetables today when the benefits aren’t seen for years or even decades.

However, improvements to your mood may be seen within 2 years, they say.

Scientists from the universities of Warwick and Queensland in the U.K. and Australia looked at food diaries kept by 12,385 Australian adults. The people, who were chosen at random from a large Australian survey, had also had their psychological well-being measured.

The researchers discounted effects such as changes in personal circumstances and income that could have influenced how happy the people felt.

They found that about 85% of participants had fewer than three daily servings of fruit, while 60% ate fewer than three daily servings of vegetables. Only a very small percentage of people (1.83%) ate, on average, more than five servings of fruit. Only 7.75% ate more than five servings of vegetables.

The study, to be published in the August issue of the American Journal of Public Health, found that improvements in happiness were seen for each extra daily portion of fruit and vegetables, up to eight portions a day.

The researchers conclude that people who go from eating almost no fruit and veggies to eight servings every day would have an increase in life satisfaction equivalent to moving from unemployment to employment. That improvement would be seen within 24 months, they claim.

“People’s motivation to eat healthy food is weakened by the fact that physical-health benefits, such as protecting against cancer, accrue decades later,” Andrew Oswald, professor of economics and behavioral science at the University of Warwick, says in a statement. “However, well-being improvements from increased consumption of fruit and vegetables are closer to immediate.”

The researchers speculate that it may be possible eventually to link this study to current research into antioxidants, which suggests a connection between optimism and carotenoid in the blood. Carotenoids give fruit and vegetables their distinctive red, yellow, and orange colours.

They say that further research is needed in this area.

Only about 1 in 10 Americans eats enough fruits and vegetables, the CDC said last year. Just 13% of people in the U.S. eat 1 1/2 to 2 cups of fruit daily, as recommended by federal dietary guidelines, and less than 9% of Americans eat 2 to 3 cups of vegetables as recommended.

The British Dietetic Association says there is evidence to show that every serving of fruit and vegetables eaten daily can reduce the risk of strokes by up to 40% and some cancers by up to 20%.


Mujcic, R. American Journal of Public Health, August 2016.

News release, University of Warwick.

British Dietetic Association.


© 2016 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.


Evolution of Well-Being and Happiness After Increases in Consumption of Fruit and Vegetables

Can eating fruit and vegetables really make you happier?

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