You’ve heard the old saying that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
But would it surprise you to know that an apple — or a carrot — also discourages the blues and makes you more engaged in life? That’s what research has found — repeatedly! — in recent years.
Research shows fruits and vegetables boost emotional well-being
- A 2016 study that focused on the food diaries of over 12,000 Australian adults found significant increases in emotional well-being of individuals who increased their intake of plant foods. This occurred within a relatively short (2-year) time span and could not be explained by other life changes.
- A 2014 study that looked at emotional health in 100 volunteers, half of whom snacked on fruit and the other half on chocolate or chips in mid-afternoon, found that those who ate fruit scored lower on measures of anxiety, depression, and emotional distress than those who ate junk food.
- And a 2015 study in 405 British young adults found not only improved emotional well-being, but increased creativity and curiosity as well, were reported by the subjects — not only in general, but in particular, on the specific days the study subjects reported eating more fruits and vegetables.
Changes can happen almost immediately
We’re all well aware of the long-term physical health benefits of a diet loaded with plant foods. Now these studies indicate that benefits to our emotional well-being occur in the short term once we start incorporating more fruits and vegetables into our daily food intake. The British study suggests that such changes may happen almost immediately!
Keep this in mind, the next time you reach for a snack like the delicious Green Agua Fresca.
Green Agua Fresca recipe: Combine a fruit and vegetable in this snack!
- 3 cups fresh watermelon
- 2 cups fresh spinach or other mild green
Mix in blender until smooth. Your drink will be bright green and taste entirely of sweet watermelon.
Smith AP, Rogers R. Positive effects of a healthy snack (fruit) versus an unhealthy snack (chocolate/crisps) on subjective reports of mental and physical health: a preliminary intervention study. Front Nutr. 2014 Jul 16;1:10. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2014.00010.
Mujcic R, Oswald A.J. Evolution of well-being and happiness after increases in consumption of fruit and vegetables. Am J Public Health. 2016 August; 106(8): 1504–1510.
Published online 2016 August. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2016.303260
Conner TS, Brookie KL, Richardson AC, Polak MA. On carrots and curiosity: eating fruit and vegetables is associated with greater flourishing in daily life. Br J Health Psychol. 2015 May;20(2):413-27. doi: 10.1111/bjhp.12113. Epub 2014 Jul 30.