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In one British study, adults answered questions about what they ate and their mood. Those who reported feeling down in the dumps said they ate fewer than three servings of produce each day. Those who ate five or more servings of fruits and veggies had the brightest moods.
In another study, adults who followed a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits and vegetables reported more positive feelings and fewer bad emotions.
You may not be able to travel around the Mediterranean, but you can eat like those who live in that region. They often live long and healthy lives naturally. Research shows they don’t have cancer as often, or as much heart disease.
Far from being a fad, the Mediterranean diet is a basic way of eating popular with doctors. It was even rated as the number one diet by a panel of health experts in the 2019 edition of “U.S. News & World Report: Best Diet Rankings.”
The Mediterranean diet is popular because it is easy to follow. These four simple steps are at its core:
You may get a feel-good boost just knowing you're eating healthy, but the benefits are real. Fruits and veggies form the cornerstone of a healthy diet.
Nutrients in produce can help improve your brain function and nurture your mental health. Champs include:
Some studies suggest that antioxidants in fruits and vegetables, including vitamins C and E, may help fight a process in your body that trigger cell damage. More research is needed, but it's likely antioxidants in fruits and vegetables may help improve your mood and protect against depression. Talk to your doctor if you're feeling depressed and ask if changes in your diet might help.
The amount of fruits and veggies you should eat each day can differ with your age and health. Talk with your doctor or nutritionist about what is right for you.
Before you go to the grocery store or farmer's market, make your own mood-boosting shopping list. Try these easy-to-find, low-cost picks that can be added to meals:
Originally published 7/23/2019; Revised 2021
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