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Boost your happiness by eating vegetables, research suggests

Feeling stressed, sad or grumpy? Greater happiness, life satisfaction, and positive affect can be found in your Mother’s advice: eat your veggies.

There is growing evidence that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is related to your wellbeing. Happiness, satisfaction with life, and positive affects are not entirely explained by variables such as socio-economic status, race, education, marriage, exercise, smoking, and body mass index (BMI).
Recent experimental and daily food diary research suggests that consuming fruits and vegetables may be a causal factor in promoting positive well-being.

Eating more vegetables and fruits is correlated with increased happiness.

Researchers in the United Kingdom used surveys to measure psychological well-being and other factors that influence human health, such as food and lifestyle. Authors of the National Bureau of Economic Research analyzed this research.

80,000 people were assessed. The diet surveys evaluated the frequency in which each person ate veggies and fruit.

The psychological surveys assessed things like life satisfaction, mental well-being, mental disorders, self-reported health, happiness, anxiety, and feeling low. The authors tried to control for variables that play a role in how you feel about life, like income, work status, your health, and other potential stressors.

BeetsYou are what you eat.

According to the authors of the report, the more vegetables you eat, the happier and more satisfied you are with your life.

According to the surveys, seven to eight portions of vegetables was more strongly associated with happiness and overall well-being than having a job.

Maybe that’s because whether or not you’re employed, you still need to eat? Just a thought.

Researchers concluded that personal well-being reaches is highest at seven servings of fruits and vegetables each day. 

But those who ate just five servings a day were almost as happy as people who ate higher amounts.

As you may have wondered, it’s not clear whether vegetables make people happy or if happy people are more likely to eat vegetables. Because there are a lot of factors that can influence personal happiness, the authors say their results are “only suggestive” of a link between veggie intake and personal happiness.

Bell Pepper

Positivity, curiosity, creativity are also correlated with a higher intake of fruit and vegetables.

A 2014 study sampled 405 young adults (mostly female, mean age 19.9 years). For 3 weeks, young adults reported on their consumption of fruit, vegetables, sweets, and chips. They also reported their contentedness, well-being, curiosity, creativity, and positive or negative feelings.

Fruit and vegetables consumption predicted greater feelings of well-being, curiosity, positivity and creativity compared with young adults who ate fewer fruit and vegetables. On days when young adults ate more fruit & veggies, they reported greater well-being, positivity, curiosity, and creativity compared with days when they ate less.

Authors of this study share that this study provides the first evidence that fruit & vegetable consumption may influence well-being in early adulthood.

Many people have a difficult time getting in 5 servings of vegetables per day.

  • What is one serving? About 1/2 of a cup of veggies.
  • How many vegetables are recommended? The USDA recommends 5 servings per day. But some say that we need between 7-11 servings per day. I personally try to get in up to 10 servings.

Nettles Namaste Nutritionist

Try these yummy recipes to help ensure you get more veggies into your life.

How to eat more veggies and actually like it:


Butternut squash soup


Main Course:

Side Dish:


strawberry ginger beet smoothie_opt

So now you have more ideas on how to choose happiness. What will you do differently as a result of reading this post? Please let me know by commenting below.


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  • Lilia Lee

    Interesting! Wow, I need to up my intake of veggies pronto.
    Thanks for posting articles of such interest to people like me.

  • Lori Nash Byron

    Vegetables increase happiness? I’ll take it! I definitely notice feeling better on days where I’ve eaten 7+ servings of fruits and veggies. And your recipe for curried butternut squash soup looks delish!

    • Frances Arnold

      I love that you’ve already noticed just how powerful it is to eat your veggies. Direct experience is the best teacher. =-)

  • Kelly

    I have to admit… I am definitely happier when I get my veggies in and this past week I have NOT done such a good job!! Traveling with the fam always poses this issue for me so I will definitely be catching up when I get home!!

  • Cena from

    There is an amazing retreat center near me called Omega – and we’ve taken r&r retreats there as a family – totally vegetarian. Not only did we all notice how nice our skin looked, we noticed how ‘light’ our energy was after a couple days on a total veggie diet! The food was amazing and fresh -and of course having it prepared deliciously for us was so nice! I was REALLY aware of the lighter moods and although not a vegetarian lifestyle — we have since incorporated an almost 100% organic diet as a result.

  • Dorothy Pang, Fertility Coach & Acupuncturist

    What a great article! I love this. OF COURSE, eating good, clean healthy food is going to be beneficial to your body – both physically and emotionally. It only makes sense! Not to mention eating all that good stuff means less room for the bad stuff – bad stuff which can cause mood swings and low energy and crankiness. I’m such a fan of eating well, can’t you tell? It really is a keystone to good health.

    • Frances Arnold

      Glad you’re also a veggie cheerleader, Dorothy! Lord knows we need enthusiasm around veggies!

  • Sarah Schwab

    this is awesome! The best reason I’ve heard for eating my vegetables. I think I’m going to go make myself a green smoothie!

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