Just One Serving of Fruit and Vegetables a Day Can Boost Your Mental Health

Another reason to eat your veggies!

By: Amanda Mushro
Young family having food and drink in the garden


Young family having food and drink in the garden

Photo by: pixelfit


It can be a daily struggle to get your kids to eat their fruits and veggies. But how about you? Are you eating food from nature every day? We know the importance of eating a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and veggies for their nutrients and vitamins. However, a new study suggests that eating produce every day can actually make you happier and give your mental health a boost. Pass the broccoli, please!

According to a study from Leeds and York Universities in the United Kingdom, researchers analyzed data from over 40,000 people living in the UK during a seven year time period. They found that when there was an increase in produce (more fruits and veggies) in the participants’ diets, they reported better moods.

It’s often recommended that half of our plate is filled with fruit and veggies, but when we’re rushed or eating on the go, that’s not always the case. So, how many salads or sides of fruit should we be adding to our plates in order to feel these effects?

What researchers found interesting was that the participants didn’t have to eat tons and tons of produce to feel the mental health boost — it was after just one serving that people reported feeling happier. Plus, the results were pretty significant with researchers saying that eating just one extra portion of produce a day had the equivalent effect on mental well-being as eight extra days of walking at least ten minutes per month.

This is great news if you have picky eaters at home or if you’re not a fan of produce yourself. Focusing on adding one serving a day seems manageable.

"It’s well-established that eating fruit and vegetables can benefit physical health," says co-author of the study, Dr Neel Ocean. "While further work is needed to demonstrate cause and effect, the results are clear: people who do eat more fruit and vegetables report a higher level of mental well-being and life satisfaction than those who eat less."

The authors of the study say that the vast majority of people living in the UK don’t eat the daily recommendation for fruits and veggies: five servings a day. Their hope is that this study gives people in the UK and around the world the motivation to change their eating habits, not only for the nutritional value, but for the mental health benefits as well.

"Encouraging better dietary habits may not just be beneficial to physical health in the long run but may also improve mental well-being in the shorter term," added co-author of the study, Dr. Peter Howley

If you’re looking to add more produce into your family’s diet, start with smaller portions at each meal. For picky eaters, you can add dips like peanut butter or yogurt to encourage more bites or smoothies for the whole family that are packed with plenty of fresh produce. Also, don’t feel like you always have to serve up fresh produce because frozen or canned fruits and veggies still have all of the health benefits, but in easier packaging.


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