The Richmond Register

February 23, 2013

Fruits and vegetables are mood enhancers

Dr. Jack on Health and Fitness

By Dr. Jack Rutherford
Register Columnist

RICHMOND — When your mother told you to eat your vegetables, she was right.

But she probably didn’t know that in addition to enjoying better health, these healthy foods also help keep the blues at bay, say researchers.

New research shows that a high intake of fruits and vegetables contributes to a happier, calmer and more energetic life.

A recent study, published in the British Journal of Health Psychology, examined the relationship between daily emotions and food consumption and found that people who eat more fruits and vegetables generally find themselves happier, more relaxed and more energetic than those who ate very little.

The research followed 281 young adults for three weeks during which time the participants logged in what they had eaten that day as well as how they felt on nine mood-related questions.

Researchers analyzed the data and found a positive correlation between mood and fruit and vegetable intake, so much so that they suggested that healthy foods improved mood.

They noted that people would have to consume approximately seven to eight total servings of fruits and vegetables to notice a meaningful positive change.

This is more than twice the intake of fruits and vegetables in the average American diet, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.

Mood enhancement aside, consuming more fruits and vegetables helps control blood pressure, ward off heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, avoid diverticulitis (a painful intestinal ailment), and guard against macular degeneration and cataracts, two common causes of vision loss.

The Healthy Eating Pyramid recommends eating between five and 13 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, excluding potatoes, which should be considered more of a starch than a vegetable.

A good practice is to fill half your plate at each meal with fruit and vegetables.