Eating more fruits, veggies can make young people happy, energetic
New research from New Zealand’s University of Otago states that eating more fruit and vegetables may make younger people calmer, happier and more energetic in their daily life.
The Department of Psychology researchers Dr Tamlin Conner and Bonnie White, and Dr Caroline Horwath from Otago's Department of Human Nutrition, investigated the relationship between day-to-day emotions and food consumption. A total of 281 young adults completed an internet-based daily food diary for 21 consecutive days.
Before this, participants completed a questionnaire giving details of their age, gender, ethnicity, weight and height. Those with a history of an eating disorder were not included. On each of the 21 days participants logged into their diary each evening and rated how they felt using nine positive and nine negative adjectives.
They were also asked five questions about what they had eaten that day. The participants were specifically asked to report the number of servings eaten of fruit unhealthy foods like biscuits, cookies, potato chips, and cakes and muffins.
The results showed a strong day-to-day relationship between more positive mood and higher fruit and vegetable consumption, but no other foods. When people at more fruits and vegetables, they reported feeling calmer, happier and more energetic than they normally did.
To understand which comes first – feeling positive or eating healthier foods – Dr Conner and her team ran additional analyses and found that eating fruits and vegetables predicted improvements in positive mood the next day, suggesting that healthy foods may improve mood. These findings held regardless of the BMI of individuals.
Post analysis, they demonstrated that young people would need to consume approximately seven to eight total servings of fruits and vegetables per day to notice a meaningful positive change. One serving of fruit or vegetables is approximately the size that could fit in your palm, or half a cup.
The research shows a promising connection between healthy foods and healthy moods. However, a further research is necessary and the authors recommend the development of randomised control trials evaluating the influence of high fruit and vegetable intake on mood and wellbeing.