I thought I knew every reason to enjoy eating fruit and vegetables: great taste, nutrient rich, versatile, filling and naturally low in sodium and fat.
Now, new research from New Zealand, published in The British Journal of Psychology, reports a novel and intriguing study. Data collected on a sample of 405 young adults was analyzed to determine whether eating fruits and vegetables associates with markers of well being.
Subjects kept an electronic food diary for 13 days. In addition to keeping track of the food they ate, they recorded their feelings of well-being, curiosity, creativity and positive and negative moods. A new word for me from this study was eudaemonic well being, which is a state of feeling happy, healthy and meaningful. The results were that young adults who ate more fruit and vegetables reported higher average eudaemonic well being, more intense feels of curiosity and greater creativity when compared with young adults who ate fewer fruit and vegetables.
Few salty and sweet snacks related to well-being except the consumption of sweets was associated with greater curiosity for the same person comparison. There was no carryover with the feelings of well being, meaning one had to eat the fruit and vegetables every day to feel good.
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This was a correlational study which means the people who ate the most fruit and vegetables felt a certain way. It did not say eating vegetables made them feel this way. The authors suggest the increased vitamins and phytonutrients and carbs in the fruit could improve the synthesis of feel good neurotransmitters but that is a bit of a stretch.
The bottom line is that there is absolutely no down side to eating more fruits and vegetables and the potential for benefits has now grown to include well-being and a positive attitude.
Sheah Rarback is a registered dietitian on the faculty of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. Follow her on Twitter @sheahrarback.