New research indicates that an increase in frequency and quantity of fresh produce can make you happier and give your mental health a boost. According to TLC, the study from Leeds and York Universities in the UK analyzed data from more than 40,000 people during a seven-year period. The researchers found that when there was an increase in fruits and vegetables in the participants’ diets, they reported better moods. A key feature of this work is that the study was able to follow the same individuals over time.
The study also controlled for alternative factors that may affect mental well-being, such as age, education, income, marital status, employment status, lifestyle and health, as well as consumption of other foods such as bread or dairy products. The research showed a positive association between the quantity of fruit and vegetables consumed and people’s self-reported mental well-being.
Specifically, the findings indicate that eating just one extra portion of fruits and vegetables a day could have an equivalent effect on mental well-being as around 8 extra days of walking a month (for at least 10 minutes at a time).