New research shows that adding more produce to your daily diet can also benefit your mental health and sense of well-being. One study of the eating habits and moods of 80,000 British adults at Dartmouth and the University of Warwick found that those who consumed the most fruit and vegetables every day rated themselves as significantly happier and more satisfied with their lives than those who ate lesser amounts.
Researchers looked at three studies and discovered that the well-being score for people who ate seven to eight servings of vegetables and fruits per day was consistently three points higher than for those who ate little or none. Researchers pointed out that the happiness gap between the two groups was “notably large,” outweighing even the factor of unemployment. The study indicates a “strong positive” correlation.
Eating veggies also perked up college-age people. A study of 281 adults with a mean age of 20, conducted at the University of Otago, New Zealand, showed that those who reported the highest daily consumption of fruits and veggies also declared they were happier, calmer and more energetic than those who ate less. But even better, the healthy foods left a beneficial carryover—participants who ate the most produce reported their positive feelings carried through to the next day.
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health concluded from a study of 982 Americans that those who exhibited the most optimistic outlooks on life also had the highest blood levels of carotene, a key antioxidant that’s delivered by a colorful array of produce: dark green spinach and kale, carrots and sweet potatoes, and vibrant yellow or orange fruits like peaches, papayas and cantaloupe.
Recent studies found that these veggie superfoods can actually ward off depression—while deficiencies can bring it on. At the other end of the age spectrum, researchers at Duke examined the diets of 278 subjects aged 60+ and discovered that those with the lowest intake of fresh fruits and vegetables were most likely to suffer depression.
According to a study of 1,798 U.S. adults published in the British Journal of Nutrition, robust blood levels of carotenoids reduced the risk of developing depressive symptoms by 59 percent. And if all this isn't enough to convince you, Spanish researchers found that the Mediterranean diet that emphasizes fruits and vegetables may help prevent depression.
Seven to eight servings may sound like a daunting amount until you consider that 6 ounces of juice equals one serving. Drink 12 ounces of juice in the morning, and start your day with two servings of happy juice. Have a juice cocktail before dinner, and you'll add another serving or two. So, drink to a happy mood that will last all day long!
Fennel juice has been used as a traditional tonic to help the body release endorphins, the “feel good” peptides, from the brain into the bloodstream. Endorphins help to diminish anxiety and fear, and they generate a mood of euphoria.
1⁄2 apple (green is lower in sugar)
4–5 carrots, well scrubbed, tops removed, ends trimmed
3 fennel stalks with leaves and flowers
1⁄2 cucumber, peeled if not organic
1 handful of spinach
1-inch-chunk ginger root
Cut produce to fit your juicer’s feed tube. Juice apple first and follow with other ingredients. Stir and pour into a glass. Drink as soon as possible. Serves 1–2.
Cherie Calbom is the author of 21 books, including her latest best-seller, The Juice Lady’s Big Book of Juices and Green Smoothies, and Juicing for Life, with 2 million copies sold. Known as the Juice Lady for her work with juicing and health, her juice and diet therapy and cleansing programs have been popular for more than two decades. She holds a Master of Science degree in whole foods nutrition from Bastyr University. She has practiced as a clinical nutritionist at St. Luke Medical Center, Bellevue, Wash., and as a celebrity nutritionist for George Foreman and Richard Simmons. She and her husband conduct wellness juice and raw foods cleansing tetreats throughout the year. For more information and to sign up for her free newsletter, go to juiceladycherie.com.