Healthy foods for healthy moods

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Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables can make young people calmer, happier and more energetic, according to new research from New Zealand’s University of Otago.

Researchers analyzed a group of 281 people with a mean age of 20 years. They completed an Internet-based daily food diary for 21 consecutive days, answering specific questions about the amount of fruits and vegetables they ate and how they felt. They also completed questionnaires before and after the study.

Better mood and more energy

“On days when people ate more fruits and vegetables, they reported feeling calmer, happier and more energetic than they normally did,” said Dr. Tamlin Conner, Otago’s Department of Human Nutrition. There was a strong day-to-day relationship between more positive mood and higher fruit and vegetable consumption. Other foods were not associated with elevated mood.

The team wanted to make sure that the happier mood came after food consumption, not vice versa. They found that eating fruits and vegetables was a good predictor of elevated mood the following day.

How many fruits and veggies does it take?

“After further analysis we 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,” noted Dr. Connor.

“One serving of fruit or vegetables is approximately the size that could fit in your palm, or half a cup. My co-author Bonnie White suggests that this can be done by making half your plate at each meal vegetables and snacking on whole fruit like apples.”

Admittedly, 281 people is a small sampling. Further research will be needed to show the influence of high fruit and vegetable intake as having a direct connection to positive mood and improved well-being.

Source: University of Otago, MedicalNewsToday

 
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