We all know that fruits and vegetables are good for our body, but did you know that they have a profound effect on our minds too? Our whole body functions at peak performance when given good nutrition, adequate water and a generally healthy lifestyle. So what is good for your brain and how can we improve our diet for a focus on brain health?
A post in one of my favorite magazines, The Intelligent Optimist (formally Ode), cited evidence in a recent UK study that showed eating ample amounts of fruits and vegetables is totally beneficial for your mental health. In a study from the University of Warwick, UK, research showed that, “Nearly two-thirds of the people with high mental wellbeing ate three or more servings of fruit and vegetables every day. Only 6.8% of people who ate less than two servings a day had high mental wellbeing. In contrast, smoking and obesity were linked to a greater likelihood of having low mental wellbeing.” The article didn’t state what ‘high’ or ‘low’ mental wellbeing might have been, which is pretty subjective. But if we’re rating ourselves as high or low wellbeing, I know I feel my best when I have a day full of fruits and veggies!
But it’s not just these researchers: in a previous post we wrote about how other research has shown that the more colorful your diet is naturally, the happier you are. Note that these colors need to be from fruits and veggies, folks, not artificial colors!
As reported in Mother Jones, “in a study from Harvard researchers found a strong association between adults’ levels of optimism and the amount of carotenoid antioxidants in their blood. Carotenoids are found in richly colored green and orange vegetables, including kale, sweet potatoes, carrots, and collard greens. The more servings of carotenoid-containing vegetables you eat, the results suggest, the brighter your outlook.”
But when it comes to fruits and veggies, what is good for your brain? Lucky for you, most of the veggies that we love for our body are also pretty darn good for your brain too. Some of the best foods for keeping your brain in good shape include tea, nuts and seeds (for healthy fats), chocolate (it reduces stress hormones!), blueberries, whole grains (keeps our brain happy with the right kind of cards) and broccoli (for the high Vitamin K content).
And how can you eat the rainbow for the best brain health? Include a variety of fruits and veggies each day, try new produce when it’s in season, try to eat one salad each day to increase the amount of greenery in your diet, choose fruits as a snack, and be clever with add-ins (add nuts to salad, shredded carrots to hummus, blueberries to cereal) to boost the color and the brain-boosting nutrition in all of your meals.
veggies on the brain image from Shutterstock