Eat More Vegetables and Fruits to Improve Mood!

eat more vegetables and fruit to improve mood

Q: My mood hasn’t been good for quite a while.  I’m wondering: Is it possible to change my diet so that I become a happier person? -Veronica W., Portland, Ore.

A:  Research certainly suggests it’s possible. And the mood-boosting nutritional habit to adopt is one you probably never considered before.

We’ve all heard that we should eat our fruits and vegetables because they’re “good for us.” Studies have long shown that the risks of cancer and heart attacks are greatly reduced by a regular intake of these foods. Now science has found another reason to consume more fruits and vegetables: Eating enough of them boosts happiness and could make us happier people.

Satisfaction-Boosting Results from Eating More Fruits and Vegetables

In a study published last year in the American Journal of Public Health, researchers asked more than 12,000 people about how many fruits and vegetables they typically ate-once in 2007, and again in 2009. The subjects also rated their overall life satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 10 during both of those surveys.

Researchers looked at how each person’s fruit and vegetable consumption and happiness changed over those two years, and found that with each extra serving of fruits and vegetables people ate, the happier-or more satisfied with life-they felt.

The researchers found that people who switched from eating almost no fruit and vegetables in their daily diets to eating eight portions of fruits and vegetables a day experienced an increase in life satisfaction and well-being equivalent to what an unemployed person feels after finding a job.

The relationship between higher levels of life satisfaction and increased fruit and vegetable intake persisted even after the researchers accounted for changes in the people’s income or life circumstances.

While previous research has shown that eating more fruits and vegetables leads to improvements in people’s physical health, these benefits typically occur over a long period of time, the researchers said. Individuals should take heart that there is a relatively quick psychological payoff from adopting healthier eating habits.

“People’s motivation to eat healthy food is weakened by the fact physical health benefits accrue decades later, but well-being improvements from increased consumption of fruit and vegetables are closer to immediate,” the researchers concluded.

Possible Reasons for the Benefit of Fruits and Vegetables

It’s not clear why eating more fruit and vegetables is associated with greater levels of life satisfaction, the researchers said. One recent study links greater levels of carotenoids, found in some fruits and veggies such as carrots, to higher levels of optimism. It’s also possible that eating more fruits and vegetables changes gut flora (the good and bad bacteria in the gut) in a way that improves brain chemistry.

Past research also suggests that there’s a link between B vitamins-found in spinach, Brussels sprouts, and oranges-and production of serotonin, one of the chemicals in the brain that helps produce a happy mood.

This Australian study focused on the psychological effects of eating fruits and vegetables over two years. However, positive effects from fruits and vegetables on well-being may occur quite quickly. A previous study in 2013 found that a high level of fruit and vegetable consumption appears to result in greater emotional well-being the very next day.

Emphasize More Veggies than Fruits

The study was run in some Australian states in conjunction with the “Australian Go for 2&5 Campaign,” which promotes the consumption of two portions of fruit and five portions of vegetables every day. This is a good general guideline for people. One serving equals half a cup of fresh, frozen, or unsweetened canned fruits and vegetables.

However, bear in mind that fruit is high in fructose, which in excess can lead to insulin-related health problems. So, some people experience better health when they eat less than two portions of fruit per day.

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Better Nutrition

7 Ways to Boost Your Intake of Vegetables and Fruits

Try these tips for increasing your intake of vegetables, and to a lesser extent, fruits:

1. Include vegetables or fruit with breakfast

Add sautéed assorted vegetables to eggs or sausage, and have a side of fruit.

2. Substitute vegetables in place of pasta

Spaghetti squash and zucchini noodles are two great alternatives.

3. Have cut vegetables available as fast-food snacks

Cut them into sticks that you can easily grab from the fridge, and eat plain or with a dip.

4. Make celery sticks or apple slices with nut butter a go-to staple

This stabilizing snack is good between meals, and it can serve as an easy-to-make breakfast or lunch side dish.

5. Set out a fruit bowl in the kitchen

This encourages eating assorted varieties of fresh fruit instead of eating processed convenience foods such as crackers or chips.

6. Have some frozen vegetables and unsweetened fruits in the freezer

They can serve as essential backups when you can’t make it to the store to get fresh produce.

7. Eat more than one type of vegetable with lunch and dinner

Emphasize two to three times more vegetables on your plate than protein, grains, or beans.

Written by Melissa Diane Smith for Better Nutrition and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Better Nutrition

More Veggies with a Protein Smoothie!

Another really great way to enjoy more fruits and veggies is in a delicious smoothie!

At MariGold, we love our smoothies! And what better way to enjoy a smoothie, than to combine it with some protein for a more balanced, well-rounded snack or meal?

Whey Isolate Protein has its own mood-boosting benefits. It contains amino acids to help produce key neurotransmitters that may help to prevent and treat depression and anxiety.

One of the essential amino acids provided by dietary protein is tryptophan. Tryptophan is uniquely associated with mood support as it is the precursor to serotonin which in turn makes melatonin. Another amino acid found in whey isolate protein that may improve mood is tyrosine. Tyrosine is particularly important in producing epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine. It can help form essential brain chemicals that affect mood and sleep.

Protein-packed meals and snacks can also help you avoid sugary, processed foods, which can trigger anxiety and depression. A diet rich in protein also helps improve energy levels, giving you the strength to get moving and feel better.

MariGold Grass-fed Whey Isolate Protein Powder is 100% pure, clean, premium quality protein and only contains the good stuff your body wants and needs. It is derived from sweet Irish milk given by Truly Grass-Fed™ cows who spend 95% of their time roaming freely and feasting upon the delicious green grasses of the breathtaking Irish countryside.

MariGold WPI is cold processed, which means it retains the natural immune-boosting nutrients, antioxidants, amino acids, and minerals to help keep your body strong.

It is also micro-filtered, leaving it UNDENATURED and incredibly creamy. There’s no aftertaste or gritty texture – just a smooth, clean taste that mixes easily into your favorite recipes or shakes.

In addition to our classic Unflavored Whey Isolate Protein, it now comes in 4 delicious flavors to add a little fun to your smoothies!

You may also want to try our Grass-Fed Collagen Peptides in your smoothies. It has skin-rejuvenating and bone-strengthening benefits as well as helps to support a healthy gut and immune system.

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