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Science Says Eating More Fruits and Vegetables Can Make You Happier

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We already know that there are tons of benefits associated with getting your recommended servings of vegetables and fruits every day. Not only can filling up on these foods have a positive impact on your physical health (it can even lower your risk of stroke!) and help you maintain your weight, but research has shown that it can help improve your mental health, too. Now, a new study has discovered that upping your fruit and veggie intake may actually boost your psychological well-being in a *really* short amount of time.

In a PLOS ONE study, researchers took a group of young women ages 18 to 25 who didn't normally eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. They split them up into three groups: One group received two additional servings of fresh fruits and vegetables a day, one received daily texts reminding them to eat fruits and veggies as well as a voucher to purchase them, and the control group continued their eating habits as usual. After a 14-day trial, researchers found that the group that was provided with fruits and vegetables not only successfully included more of them in their diets (no huge surprise there!), but they also had improved psychological well-being, with more motivation, curiosity, creativity, and energy.

While the study didn't find any improvement in symptoms of depression or anxiety as past studies have, the authors noted that they believe diet changes would need to take place over a longer period of time in order to show those kinds of results. Still, knowing that a short-term change can make such a difference is inspiring. (If you need a refresher on the new USDA dietary guidelines, we've got your back.)

Need more motivation? The group that upped their intake the most was only eating an average of 3.7 servings daily over the course of the study, meaning that you really don't have to change your diet that much in order to get the benefits if you're not eating many fruits and vegetables now. As of 2015, most Americans weren't meeting the recommended intake, which is the equivalent of somewhere between 5 and 9 servings of vegetables and fruits per day, according to the CDC.

This study shows that even with small changes, you can feel significantly happier (and healthier) in a short amount of time. (Need some ideas for how to get your servings in? Scope these 16 ways to eat more veggies.)

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