Researchers from the University of Queensland in Australia and the University of Warwick in England have some truly happy news for everyone.
They conducted a study that suggests that people who eat a lot of fruits and vegetables – up to eight portions a day – are considerably happier than people who do not.
The ground-breaking study – which included more than 12,000 people – is one of the first of its kind to affirm the psychological benefits of eating fruit and vegetables, building on previous studies that have shown that consuming produce can reduce a person’s risk of developing cancer and heart disease.
The researchers found that when people who initially ate almost no fruit and vegetables began eating eight portions of them a day, they experienced “an increase in life satisfaction equivalent to moving from unemployment to employment”.
This “feel-good factor” was reported over a period of two years.
It makes sense, really. People feel good about themselves when they make healthy choices that help prevent cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, and we should all be pleased when our food choices help stop animal suffering, conserve resources, and combat climate change and other environmental problems.
So if you’re feeling blue, eat blueberries, leafy greens, and other plant-based foods. Healthy foods contribute to a happy mood. Many wholesome plant foods, including citrus fruits, berries, nuts, avocados, spinach, and asparagus, can even help calm frayed nerves and leave you feeling good overall.
Asparagus, for example, is full of folic acid, which can perk up your mood and alleviate depression, and spinach serves up lots of magnesium, a mineral that has been shown to reduce stress levels. Citrus fruits and berries are rich in vitamin C, which helps keep stress hormones at bay, and foods that are rich in vitamins B and E, such as avocados and nuts, are especially beneficial when you’re feeling uneasy.
Whole grains have also been shown to improve one’s outlook. They help boost your serotonin (the body’s feel-good hormone) levels and lift your spirits. For an added benefit, sprinkle herbs like oregano, thyme, or rosemary on whole-grain breads, since they’re also known to have a positive effect on people’s moods – and their heath.