Would you eat more fruits and vegetables if you knew they would make you happier? Believe it or not, that’s exactly what the results of a new Australian study are saying—and the benefits happen almost immediately.
For the study, more than 12,000 people were asked to keep food diaries that included notes on their mood and mental well-being. In analyzing those diaries, researchers discovered that the more plant foods they ate, the bigger the mood boost—with happiness levels soaring toward the high end of fruit and veggie consumption (eight portions daily).
And, not only did the study participants benefit from the bliss that resulted from eating more apples, berries, greens, and so on, but the good feelings happened pretty quickly after consumption. Talk about instant gratification!
Previous research tells us that consuming plenty of fiber-rich fruits and veggies is good for the body, promoting everything from better digestion to heart health, but this is one of the first studies to examine the emotional benefits of eating more plant-based foods.
Study authors speculate the good feelings may stem from plant compounds called carotenoids, which exhibit antioxidant effects that may promote a more positive mood. They hope their results, which will be published in an upcoming issue of the American Journal of Public Health, may encourage people to change their eating habits for the better.