Healthy eating not only benefits the body - it can put you in a better frame of mind, according to psychologists.
In a study of young adults, upping consumption of fruit and vegetables was associated with positive mood.
“On days when people ate more fruits and vegetables they reported feeling calmer, happier and more energetic than they normally did,” said lead researcher Dr Tamlin Conner, from the University of Otago in New Zealand.
A total of 281 adults with an average age of 20 completed a daily food diary for 21 days, rating how they felt using nine positive and nine negative descriptions.
At the end of each day they were asked to list how many servings of fruit, vegetables, or categories of unhealthy food such as biscuits, crisps and cakes they had eaten.
Consumption of fruit and vegetables led to improvements in mood the next day, but it was not the case that feeling happier prompted participants to eat more fruit and vegetables, the researchers found.
The findings were not affected by Body Mass Index, a measure of weight in relation to height.
“After further analysis we demonstrated that young people would need to consume approximately seven to eight total servings of fruits and vegetables per day to notice a meaningful positive change,” said Dr Conner, whose research is published in the British Journal of Health Psychology.
“One serving of fruit or vegetables is approximately the size that could fit in your palm, or half a cup.”
Consuming half a plate of vegetables at each mealtime and snacking on apples or other whole fruits could be enough to make the change, she said.
The scientists recommended larger randomised trials to assess the effect of high fruit and vegetable intake on mood and well-being.