We’ve all been told to eat our daily recommended amount of fruits and veggies pretty much since the day we've been able to consume solid foods. Whether it came from your school nurse showing you the food pyramid for the first time or your parents nagging you about being a picky eater, it’s no secret that neglecting those food groups is highly discouraged. Of course, that’s because we can count on fruits and vegetables to provide plenty of healthy nutrients that help us live long, happy, and strong lives. That apparently doesn’t end with our physical health, either: Our mental health may benefit as well.
According to a study published by the University of Leeds in February 2019, eating just one extra portion of fruits and veggies a day can help lift our overall mood and mental health. Dr. Neel Ocean, one of the authors of the study, explained in a press release: “While further work is needed to demonstrate cause and effect, the results are clear: People who do eat more fruit and vegetables report a higher level of mental well-being and life satisfaction than those who eat less.”
The study followed the same participants over time before coming to this conclusion. They also kept potential stress factors — such as education, income, marital status, and lifestyle — in mind while processing the results. Regardless of all of those variables, the research team still found that simply adding a bit more vegetables and fruit to our daily diet boosted the participants’ levels of happiness.
Another study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2017 explained that, depending on your age, federal guidelines recommend that adults eat about two to three cups of fruits and vegetables each day. Unfortunately, that study also showed that only one out of every 10 adults in the United States were actually meeting that daily recommendation. With that in mind, we should all consider adding more fruits and veggies to our daily meals. If you’re looking to feel healthier physically and mentally, this could be the perfect place to start.