February 12, 2013

Good Mood Food

Fruits and vegetables aren't just good for your health and waistline. They improve your mood, too.

You've heard that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is good for your overall health, but now it appears it is also good for your overall mood. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables makes people feel happier.

Initially investigators thought the relationship between food and fruits and veggies worked the other way — being in a better mood would motivate people to eat more healthfully. But eating more fruits and vegetables actually made it much more likely that a person would be in a positive mood the next day, whereas positive moods did not predict increases in fruit and vegetable consumption.

“We were surprised at the strength of the correlation between fruit and vegetable consumption and increases in positive mood states in daily life,” Tamlin Conner, one of the authors told TheDoctor in an e-mail.

Eating more fruits and vegetables actually made it much more likely that a person would be in a positive mood the next day.

Conner says there was a 20 percent improvement in positive mood when people were eating seven or eight total servings of fruits and/or vegetables per day. “So we suggest aiming for seven to eight – with more vegetables than fruit.” Try making half of each meal vegetables or fruit, and then add one or two fruit or vegetable snacks. She admits it takes a conscious effort to eat this way. “Just think about substituting fruits and vegetables for the unhealthy things that you eat during the day,” she advises. Frozen vegetables will work for those on a tight budget.

Fruits and vegetables are not going to replace antidepressants, the findings are only Correlational study, but they do suggest that how we eat affects how we feel. “Food is not a panacea – but it may be part of a larger holistic approach to improving well-being along with exercise, stress reduction, and good relationships,” Conner says.

The researchers are running a larger study of 600 people over the next two years and hope to replicate these findings and determine if certain people have a stronger link between their diet and their mood. Research also needs to be done to better understand just how your diet affects your mood.

The study is published in the British Journal of Health Psychology.

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