Fruits, Vegetables, and Happiness

By: Jenna Savage

Proper diets play an important role in the mental and physical health of an individual. Diets high in fat can lead to low activity, increased stress, and sluggishness, as we have reported in the past. In addition, sugary diets hinder learning and memory, according to research studies. For optimal mental wellbeing, cutting down on the fat and sugar can help alleviate symptoms of stress and poor memory retention. Adding in a little fish oil or some DHA supplements can help as well, as we’ve pointed out before. But perhaps the most important dietary adjustment a person can make is eating more fruits and vegetables, according to a recent PsychCentral article.

The article addresses a study that is projected to be published within the journal Social Indicators Research, and which has determined that eating fruits and vegetables can actually play a factor in how happy people feel. The study, conducted by University of Warwick economists and researchers, examined 80,000 people to see if there is a correlation between eating fruits and vegetables and mental health.

It turns out that the more servings of fruits and vegetables people included in their diets, the happier they were. Those who ate seven servings of fruits and vegetables daily were the happiest and any additional servings did not increase their level of well-being. Seven servings is therefore the optimal amount of fruits and vegetables for mental health – the peak of well-being.

Unfortunately, most governments throughout the world recommend five, rather than seven, servings of fruits and vegetables each day. In addition, 25% of the British population eats either one serving or no servings of fruits and vegetables daily. These findings are therefore very important for public health. Governments may want to consider recommending additional servings of fruits and vegetables. And people, in turn, may want to increase the amount they eat each day. Even if seven servings seems to be an unrealistic amount for some, just eating more than usual can make an improvement in mood.

Of course, this is an area that can use more research. Sarah Steward-Brown, M.D., a University of Warwick professor of public health, states that additional studies and randomized trials should be conducted to determine the exact cause behind the power of fruits and vegetables and to confirm the study’s findings.

Nevertheless, it is clear that dietary choices can play an instrumental role in the way a person feels, thinks, and acts. It is therefore wise to consider eating diets that contain fruits, vegetables, and DHA, and to refrain from fatty and sugary junk foods. Doing so will promote optimal performance, and will keep you happier and healthier in the long run as well.