Eat Your Fruits and Veggies for Better Health – and Mood

Eat Your Fruits and Veggies for Better Health – and Mood

Many people know that eating fresh fruit and veggies each day is good for your physical health. It turns out eating plenty of them may also make you happier. 

In one British study  , about 14,000 adults answered questions about what they ate and their mood. Those who reported feeling down in the dumps said they ate fewer than 3 servings of produce each day. Those who ate 5 servings or more of fruits and veggies had the brightest moods. In another study  , adults who ate a fruit- and veggie-rich Mediterranean diet had more positive feelings and fewer bad emotions. 

You may not be able to travel around the Mediterranean Sea, but you can eat like those who live in that part of the world. They often live long and healthy lives, without working at it. Research shows they don’t have cancer as often, or as much heart disease 

Far from being a fad, the Mediterranean diet is a basic way of eating, often backed by doctors. It was ranked No. 1 by a panel of health experts in the 2019 U.S. “U.S. News & World Report: Best Diet Rankings  .”  

It has easy steps: 

  • Eat fruits, veggies and whole grains.  
  • Have fish and seafood, use herbs and spices for flavor.  
  • Don’t make meat dishes the base of your food plan.  
  • Have sweets only as treats.  

Happy You're Eating Healthy 
You may get a feel-good boost of knowing you're eating healthy. You know that fruits and veggies form the cornerstone of a healthy diet, so you should feel proud of yourself for placing them on your plate. 

Healthy compounds in produce also can help your brain function the right way, improving your mental health. Star nutrients include: 

  • Complex carbs. All carbs give an instant lift as glucose, insulin and serotonin flow through your veins. Unlike simple sugars, which often cause you to quickly crash, complex carbs from starchy veggies and fruits keep your blood sugar and hormone levels steady. 
  • B vitamins. Your body needs these nutrients to produce brain chemicals. Fall short and your emotions may run off track. 

Some studies also suggest that antioxidants in fruits and vegetables, including vitamins C and E, may help fight a process in your body that starts cell damage. The jury is still out, but it's likely antioxidants in fruits and vegetables may help keep your mood intact and protect against depression. Talk to your doctor if you're feeling depressed and ask if changes in your diet might help. 

Which to Choose? 
The amount of fruits and veggies you should eat each day can differ with your age and health. Talk with your doctor or nutritionist about what is right for you. 

Then make your own mood-boosting shopping list. Try these picks. They're easy to find, low-cost and can be added to meals simply. 

  • Peas (rich in complex carbs). Mix into pasta, stir into salads, or blend with onion, garlic, broth and spices for a tasty soup. 
  • Bananas (have complex carbs and vitamin B-6). Try bananas blended into smoothies, sliced and topped with frozen yogurt or even tossed with apples, lettuce and peanuts for a salad. 
  • Spinach (good source of the B vitamin folate). Use as a pizza topping. Or heat up frozen greens as a side dish or with chickpeas for a tasty beans-and-greens sauté. (Ask your doctor before adding spinach to your diet if you are on certain blood thinners.) 

 

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