It is no secret that eating adequate servings of fruits and veggies every day has major benefits. In addition to being low in calories while keeping you full, a new study suggests they may also have a positive affect on your mood.
The study, conducted by researchers at New Zealand’s University of Otago, analyzed the internet food diaries of 281 young people. The participants kept track of what they ate and how they felt for 21 consecutive days. Demographics, such as “age, gender, ethnicity, weight and height,” were recored ahead of time stated the press release .
The sample, in which the average age was 20 years old, had to record the amount of servings of fruits and vegetables they had that day, as well as other junk foods.
The results showed that higher consumption of the healthy foods correlated positively with happy moods, but not the unhealthy food. Their moods were tested with a section in their diary with “nine positive and nine negative adjectives,” the release said.
Dr. Tamlin Conner, one of the researchers in the study, which was recently published in the British Journal of Health Psychology today, explained the positive relationship.
“On days when people ate more fruits and vegetables, they reported feeling calmer, happier and more energetic than they normally did,” Dr. Conner said in the release.
To see if eating fruits and veggies came before the happier mood, the researchers ran additional analyses. They found that the positive mood was recorded the day after eating healthy, suggesting their hypothesis may be correct. It was also noted that the same effect did not change with an individual’s BMI.
“After further analysis we demonstrated that young people would need to consume approximately seven to eight total servings of fruits and vegetables per day to notice a meaningful positive change,” Conner said. ”One serving of fruit or vegetables is approximately the size that could fit in your palm, or half a cup. My co-author Bonnie White suggests that this can be done by making half your plate at each meal vegetables and snacking on whole fruit like apples.”
The researchers note that there are limitations to the study and there is more opportunity for further research. They say the next study should be more experimental.
The other researchers of this study were Bonnie White and Dr. Caroline Horwath from Otago’s Department of Human Nutrition.