Maybe that old saw about “an apple a day…” isn’t so far-fetched after all. A British study is championing the possibility that an increase in fruit and vegetable consumption can lead to improvements in your mental health, not just your physical well-being.
University of Leeds Behavioral Economics research fellow Neel Ocean and Associate Economics professor Peter Howley sought to confirm, on a larger scale, the findings of a 2016 Australian study that correlated fruit and vegetable consumption with increased life-satisfaction, happiness, and well-being.
The new study analyzed data from over 40,000 participants over a five-year period. Their findings supported the Australian study, with results that held true even when accounting for other mental-health factors such as physical health, income, and consumption of other foods.
The study’s authors estimate that adding one portion (equal to one cup raw vegetables or a half cup of cooked vegetables or cut fruit) to your daily diet can have the same positive benefits as taking an extra seven or eight walks a month.
However, they are quick to point out that a direct causal relationship between fruits and vegetables and psychological well-being has yet to be proven, and more long-term and large-scale studies on the subject should be pursued in order to add to the data that already exists.
Still, they are encouraged by the findings and excited by the possibility that alterations to ones diet can be another resource for feeling better and enjoying life more. So chop up that fruit, cut up those veggies, and prepare to feel better.