If your parents always told you how important it is to eat your fruits and vegetables, they’ll be pleased to know that science is backing up their claims. While they were likely most interested in the many positive benefits eating produce has on your physical health, a new study led by the University of Leeds also found that incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet could lead to more positive mental health, too.
The longitudinal study analyzed data from over 40,000 people in the UK. Researchers took into account other factors that may affect one’s mental health such as age, marital status, education, income, employment, consumption of other non-produce foods, and other health and lifestyle habits. Their findings? A positive correlation between the amount of fruits and vegetables participants ate regularly, and their self-reported mental well-being. In fact, eating just one extra serving of these healthy foods could have as much of an impact on your health as 80 minutes of walking.
“There appears to be accumulating evidence for the psychological benefits of fruits and vegetables,” says co-author of the study, Dr. Neel Ocean. “While further work is needed to demonstrate cause and effect, the results are clear: people who do eat more fruit and vegetables report a higher level of mental well-being and life satisfaction than those who eat less.”
Feeling inspired to eat a more produce-packed plate? Here are our favorite ways to indulge in fruit, plus 10 delicious ways to eat more vegetables.