Get your greens and boost your mood: The leafy secret to happiness

Science and Health

Feeling down? Years of research have shown that consuming more green vegetables not only nourishes and contributes to your physical health, but can also improve our mental well-being. It doesn’t require much. Even adding an extra serving of fruit or vegetables to your plate every day can enhance your mood. 

Here are some of the recent findings:

– A British study from 2023 found a higher consumption of fruits to be associated with feelings of calmness, self-confidence and energy.

– A 2022 Australian study on eating fruits and vegetables among over 4,000 women revealed that those who consumed at least five servings of vegetables per day had a 19% lower risk of developing depression over a 15-year period compared to those who consumed no more than one serving. Regarding fruits, consuming four servings instead of one meant a 25% lower risk of experiencing depression.

– A meta-analysis of 18 studies showed that for every 100 grams of vegetables consumed by individuals, the risk of experiencing depressive symptoms decreased by 3%. Furthermore, a study examining food diaries found that the mental health benefits of increased vegetable consumption were comparable to the emotional effects following the acquisition of a new job after a prolonged period of unemployment.

Grocery bag full of vegetables 390 (credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)

– Researchers in Britain discovered that increasing daily fruit and vegetable intake by just one serving delivered a similar estimated improvement in mental well-being as eight days of engaging in a 10-minute walk.

“There is definitely growing evidence that high consumption of vegetables and fruits does contribute to mental well-being, particularly in dealing with anxiety,” says Uma Naidoo MD, a physician and Director of Nutritional Psychiatry and Lifestyle at Massachusetts General Hospital, USA.