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It’s that time of the year where we each make promises to ourselves to eat healthier and to exercise more. Moreover, every January, we tell ourselves that we’re going to indulge in more vegetables in the coming year. Yes, eating more vegetables can help to keep us healthy in the next twelve months. But that’s not all. In fact, eating more veggies could also help make you happier.

Vegetables Can Boost Happiness, Study Finds

A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics set out to find an association between the number of vegetables that people eat and whether this had an impact on their happiness and psychological well-being.

The study

vegetables
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

For the study, the researchers sought out 75 participants between the ages of 18 and 65, These participantso generally consumed a low amount of vegetables. The participants were then split into test and control groups, with the test participants being given a selection of fresh or frozen vegetables.

Over a period of 8 weeks, the test participants were advised to consume the amounts recommended in the Dietary Guidelines. This is about two to four servings per day – which is more than they are used to consuming. The control group, on the other hand, ate their usual diet.

The researchers then used the Subjective Happiness Scale (SHS) to assess happiness both before and after the 8-week study. The SHS asks four questions which have participants self-report their happiness level.

The findings

“SHS scores increased when the amount and type of vegetables recommended by the Dietary Guidelines were consumed,” Shanon Casperson, PhD, DTR, a research biologist at the Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center, USDA-Agricultural Research Services, and one of the researchers on this study.

The researchers found that an increase in vegetable consumption, particularly one that meets the recommended USDA Dietary Guidelines, means an improvement in SHS scores.

The participants were given a large variety of vegetables to choose from. As such, the researchers were unable to point out which one vegetable is the best one for happiness. Nonetheless, Dr. Casperson advises that one consumes a wide variety of vegetables from all the colors of the rainbow each week.

Why do veggies make us happier?

A study published in BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health found that children who consume a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables report better mental health.

Photo by Jimmy Dean on Unsplash

So, which nutrients can make us happier?

Zinc, magnesium, iron, fiber, and vitamin E, which are found in abundance in vegetables, have been shown to help improve mental health.

Takeaway

Yes, achieving happiness does require a multi-faceted approach. However, it would be naive not to acknowledge the impact that diet can have.

By increasing your intake of plant-based foods, all while reducing your consumption of processed foods, you won’t only improve your mental health, but you’ll also give your physical health a great boost.

References

Botturi, A., Ciappolino, V., Delvecchio, G., Boscutti, A., Viscardi, B., & Brambilla, P. (2020). The Role and the Effect of Magnesium in Mental Disorders: A Systematic Review. Nutrients, 12(6), 1661. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12061661

De Leon, A., Jahns, L., Roemmich, J. N., Duke, S. E., & Casperson, S. L. (2021). Consumption of Dietary Guidelines for Americans Types and Amounts of Vegetables Increases Mean Subjective Happiness Scale Scores: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, S2212-2672(21)01486-6. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2021.11.009

Hayhoe R, Rechel B, Clark AB, et al. 2021. Cross-sectional associations of schoolchildren’s fruit and vegetable consumption, and meal choices, with their mental well-being: a cross-sectional study. BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health;e000205. doi: 10.1136/bmjnph-2020-000205

Lee, HS., Chao, HH., Huang, WT. et al. (2020). Psychiatric disorders risk in patients with iron deficiency anemia and association with iron supplementation medications: a nationwide database analysis. BMC Psychiatry 20, 216. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-020-02621-0

Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba is a beauty and wellness writer who has a passion for poetry, equality, natural hair, and skin-care. With a journalism degree from Pearson's Institute of Higher Education, and identifiable by either her large afro or colorful locks, Pie aspires to continuously provide the latest information, be it beauty or wellness, on how one can adopt a healthy lifestyle on a day-to-day basis.

The content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional.