fruits and vegetables fight depression and make you happy

The connection between diet and the health of your body is well established and uncontroversial. But what about the effect of diet on the health of your mind? An expanding body of research is building the case that certain dietary patterns can make you happy.



The common feature of these dietary patterns may be as simple as eating more fruits and vegetables. A 2018 presentation to the American Academy of Neurology reported that the DASH diet with its wealth of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts reduces the risk of depression by 11%. College students who eat more fruit and vegetables have more positive moods. Other studies have also associated healthy diets with healthy mental states.

So, what would happen if you put all of the research on fruits and vegetables and happiness together? First of all, you’d be surprised how many studies there were: sixty-one! Next, you’d be surprised about the results.

When all sixty-one studies were put together in a systematic review, the most obvious result was that eating a lot of fruits and vegetables is associated with higher levels of optimism and confidence and lower levels of distress and depression.

Some types of fruits and vegetables may be especially powerful, including citrus fruit, berries and leafy green vegetables. The power of leafy green vegetables over the mind is interesting because of their especially significant health powers over the body.

The study’s finding that citrus fruits and berries are powerful antidepressants is intriguing because of an earlier study that found that diets rich in flavonoids reduce depression by 7-10%. Berries are especially high in flavonoids. When women had the highest levels of proanthocyanidin flavonoids—found abundantly in dark red, blue and purple grapes and berries—depression went down by an even more impressive 17%. Equally intriguing, when the flavonoids were from citrus fruit, risk of depression went down by 18%.

Taken together, these studies powerfully suggest that eating more fruits and vegetables can stave off depression and make you happy. They also suggest that citrus fruits and berries, as well as leafy green vegetables, may be especially important.


Nutrients 2020;12(1). pii:E115


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For much more on treating depression, see our book The Family Naturopathic Encyclopedia.

For more on healthy diet, see Linda’s The All New Vegetarian Passport Cookbook: a health book and cookbook all in one book!

For comprehensive help with depression, make an appointment to see Linda Woolven now.


The Natural Path
 is intended for educational purposes only and is in no way intended for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. For health problems, consult a qualified health practitioner for a comprehensive program.

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