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.
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.
“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.
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.
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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
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