It’s well-known that a brisk walk is good for clearing your head and boosting your mental health, but just one serving of fruits or vegetables can also have that same effect or your mood, says new research.
A study – called “Lettuce Be Happy” – by researchers at Leeds and York Universities in the United Kingdom analyzed data from 40,000 Brits and found that a positive link between eating fruits and vegetables and people’s self-reported well-being.
It’s just as good as walking: eating just one serving of produce daily had the same effect on mental well-being as eight extra days of walking at least 10 minutes per month.
“It’s well-established that eating fruit and vegetables can benefit physical health,” said lead author Dr. Neel Ocean from the University of Leeds, in a release. “Recently, newer studies have suggested that it may also benefit psychological well-being.”
Dr. Ocean added that further research was needed to determine cause and effect, but it was clear that “people who do eat more fruits and vegetables report a higher level of mental well-being and life satisfaction than those who eat less.”
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 data also shows that the majority of people in the UK do not eat enough fruits and vegetables, so for those of you who don’t get enough produce in your diet, upping it could kill two birds with one stone.
“Encouraging better dietary habits may not just be beneficial to physical health in the long run, but may also improve mental well-being in the shorter term,” said co-author Dr. Howley, from Leeds Business School.
The study is published in the journal Social Science and Medicine.
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