Tips From The Professor: An Apple A Day Keeps The Blues Away

Last week I shared with you a study suggesting that junk food makes you sad.

So you might be asking: “Does that mean that healthy foods can make you glad?”

According to one recent study (Br J Health Psychol, Jan 24, 2013, doi:

10.1111/bjhp.12021) the answer may be yes.

A team from the University of Otago in New Zealand enrolled 281 young adults (average age = 20) in a study that looked at the effect of diet on their mood. Each day for 21 consecutive days they recorded their mood and what foods they ate using an online questionnaire.

In particular, they reported the number of servings of fresh fruit and vegetables and of several unhealthy foods such as biscuits or cookies, potato chips or French fries and cakes or muffins.

The investigators correlated the foods eaten with the moods reported by the participants on the same day, and again on the day after those foods were eaten. The results were pretty impressive.

On the days when people ate more fruits and vegetables they reported feeling calmer, happier and more energetic than they did on other days (p = .002 – anything less than .05 is considered a statistically significant difference). And the good effects of fruit and vegetable consumption carried over to the next day as well (p < .001).

While I paraphrased the “apple a day” quote to introduce this topic, one apple won’t quite do it.

According to this study it takes about 7-8 servings of fruits and vegetables to positively affect mood.

Of course, any good scientist will tell you that correlations do not prove cause and effect. It could be that when people are “down in the dumps” they just naturally reach for junk foods rather than fruits and vegetables.

However, since there is no downside to consuming fruits and vegetables, I feel fully comfortable recommending more fruits and vegetables in our diets.

If their health benefits aren’t enough to motivate you, maybe the possibility of improving your mood will!

There are some things we just can’t control. We can’t do anything about the cold, dark days of winter. And to paraphrase those country songs, we can’t keep our girl and dog from running off. Life happens to all of us.

But, if we want to keep our mood where it should be, we can always reach for those fresh fruits and vegetables.

To Your Health!

Dr. Stephen G Chaney

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Dr. Stephen G Chaney

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


What do you think?