fruits and veggies for physical and mental health

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many of us may have realized just how important focusing on our overall health is. As it drags on and we’re becoming more intimate with anxiety, we are realizing more and more that our mental health is just as important as our physical health. It’s always important to eat your daily fruits and veggies, but now more than ever, eating lots of plants is crucial to help keep us happy and healthy. To help support our mental health (and our physical health!) research suggests that eating more fruits and veggies may be a factor in helping us feel happier!1 Sign me up!

A 2014 English study asked 14,000 people to report their various health behaviors, hoping to link how their lifestyle choices impacted their mental well-being. The study found that those in the highest category of mental well-being, reported higher levels of fruit and veggie consumption versus individuals in the lowest category of mental well-being who reported low levels of fruit and veggie intake.1 This suggests that healthy habits like eating fruits and veggies can positively impact our mental well-being.1

Research from Produce for Better Health Foundation in 2017 builds upon this growing body of literature. Findings from more than 2,000 Americans demonstrated a correlation between days per week in which fruits and veggies were eaten and reported levels of life satisfaction and happiness. Those who reported eating fruits and veggies every day of the week were significantly more likely to report being happy and satisfied with their life. Those with the highest intakes pointed to several physical, emotional, and social benefits associated with their habitual consumption including pride in their choices, feeling good in their day-to-day activities, alleviation of physical illness, and confidence in their future health.2

I’m all about keeping my mental well-being taken care of and as a dietitian, I love to be able to promote fruits and veggies! Here are my 5 favorite ways to add more fruits and veggies to my day to help improve my mood!

1. Try to incorporate a fruit or veggie (or both!) at every meal
This could be strawberries on your morning oatmeal or cereal, peppers in scrambled eggs or a quick PB and Banana sandwich if you’re on the go! At lunch, check out our Coborn’s Dietitian Team’s ‘Build a Better Lunchbox’ resource

2. Add fruits and veggies to snacks, too!
Need ideas? Check out our snack ideas resource!

3. All forms matter
Although fresh produce is delicious, canned, frozen and dried are also great ways to add in a variety of textures and flavors. Frozen fruit is great for smoothies, canned beans are great for casseroles and sauces, and dried fruit can be the perfect addition to baked goods!

4. Try something new!
Never had papaya or a purple sweet potato? Now’s the time! Not only is it exciting to try new foods, but you may find yourself a new favorite!

5. Just add one more!
Struggling to meet the 5 servings of fruits and veggies every day? Try to add just one more serving throughout your day! If you don’t have any fruit with breakfast usually, try adding a half of banana to your morning fuel!

Treat your mind with positivity-boosting fruits and veggies. #lifewins

Happy Eating!

1 Stranges S., P.C. Samaraweera, F. Taggart, et al (2014). “Major health-related behaviours and mental well-being in the general population: The Health Survey for England.” BMJ Open 2014;4:9 e005878 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2014-005878.
2Produce for Better Health Foundation. Novel Approaches to Measuring and Promoting Fruit and Vegetable Consumption, 2017.

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