The health benefits of produce are undeniable. We know they are good for you. And if you are a regular consumer of fruits and vegetables, you also know that they don’t only affect your physical health, but your mood. Put a regularly healthy eater, for example, on a diet of processed foods, and watch their otherwise healthy glow and attitude turn sour. And while this could be due to taste preferences and the knowledge of what’s in the “bad” foods, scientists say it’s also because plant foods simply make us happier.
How Many Servings Does it Take to See Results?
Researchers examined the diets and related moods of 80,000 people and found that those who consumed the most fruits and vegetables were happier. The magic number of produce servings to create the best mental benefits: 7. Seven portions of these plant-foods created the happiest people. More servings provided even more benefits.
Those who met the ideal 7 servings reportedly had greater life satisfaction in general, greater happiness and mental well-being, less nervousness, mental disorders, and fewer bad moods. It’s also important to note for many that fruit and vegetables have been shown to help people quit smoking naturally.
Of course, the scientists say this merely shows a ‘link’, and not a ’cause and effect’. In other words, it could be that these people were already happier people and the findings show that happy people eat more fruits and vegetables. It could be a case of the chicken and the egg. But, the link is undeniable and suggests that people who suffer from bad moods, unhappiness, and even depression could benefit from getting more fruits and vegetables in their diet. Either way, it’s important to draw the connection.
According to WebMD, the findings substantiate what dieticians (and anyone with common knowledge of healthy eating) already knew—that better eating leads to better outlook.
Fewer than 1 in 10 Americans eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. And the same rate is true in the United Kingdom. In this world of fast, convenient, and nutritionally deplete food, we’ve made it far easier to eat unhealthy.
Try boosting your intake of produce each day. If you don’t already, include one or two servings of fruit for breakfast—whether in a smoothie or a fruit salad or parfait. A big salad at lunch time (think variety, not just iceberg lettuce) can pack upwards of 4 to 5 servings. Then, by nightfall, you merely have a few servings to go. Here is an infographic showing which fruit and vegetables are in season, for each season. Eating in season will support local and organic farmers, save you money, and will likely be more healthful.
Getting seven servings of fruit and vegetables each day shouldn’t be difficult when you are interested in eating for health. As a matter of fact, seven should only be seen as a starting point. Remember to avoid the dirty dozen – the 12 produce containing the most pesticides.