foods that make you happy and healthy

Is Chocolate all you really need to be happy?

Do you ever turn to food just to feel better? If yes, then which of these would you choose the next time you need “comfort food?”

 

  1. Spinach

  2. Oranges

  3. Salty nuts

  4. Bread

  5. Chocolate

We are guessing most of you did not choose spinach! Why?

Because you believe ice cream, chocolate, fish and chips (or your favorite comfort food), will give you more pleasure and psychological benefits than eating healthy fruits and vegetables (FV).

 

Sadly, for all the chocolate lovers, this is a myth. [1]

 

A research study showed that chocolate did reduce the negative emotions of people by THREE MINUTES.

 

In the study, eating “unhealthy” comfort foods (think chocolate) did boost the moods of the participants who had endured feelings of fear and terror as they watched a very scary film, but not by more than eating any other food!

 

Other studies support this conclusion.

 

In 2017, 38 German participants recorded how they felt about everything they ate, at every meal and snack times, in real time, on their mobile phones, for 8 days! The surprising results: fruits and vegetables (FV) contributed the most to their eating-related happiness. Unhealthy snack foods the least. [2]

 

This same outcome was further validated a few years earlier when researchers asked 12,000 Australians and 80,000 British citizens to complete food journals of what they ate over many years. Each was also asked to answer questions about their level of happiness and life satisfaction.

 

Amazingly, increasing the daily consumption of FV showed a correspondingly higher levels of reported happiness, life satisfaction and well-being. Regardless of income, education, race, or gender. [3]

foods that make you happy and healthy 1

But how? How could eating (FV) improve your happiness?

Eating more FV is associated with better emotions, and dozens of studies have shown how many adults with depression have bad diets (heavy fat, dairy, starch), but is the lack of FV the cause of the observed increase in rates of anxiety, stress, and depression?  The results are not conclusive [4].

 

FV are great sources of B vitamins, B9 – Folic acid (spinach, Brussels sprouts and oranges) and B6 (peas and bananas). Some studies have shown how these vitamins promote serotonin, a chemical transmitter in our brain, that when increased puts us a great mood! Vitamins C and E are also abundant in FV and within these vitamins there are chemical antioxidants that appear to reduce incidents of depression in adults.

We do know, without doubt, eating lots of FV (a plant-based diet) supports good physical health, lessens the likelihood of lifestyle-related chronic diseases and promotes living longer.

 

It is easier to be happy if you are healthy!!

 

In 2008, Dan Buettner, a researcher for the US organization National Geographic, studied five small communities around the world where people live much longer than the rest of us. He called these Blue Zones. [4]

 

The habitants of the Blue Zones share many similarities in how they live.

 

Two of these are related to food:

 

  • the residents stop eating when they were 80% full
  • they all have some variation of a plant-based diet

 

There is one food group in common across all Blue Zone communities:  legumes (a fancy word for BEANS).

Legumes have long been associated with longevity food cultures. For example, the Japanese eat soy, tofu, natto, miso, the Swedes eat brown beans and peas and in the Mediterranean countries people eat lentils, chickpeas, and white beans (as part of the famous Mediterranean diet).

foods that make you happy and healthy 1

An interesting study of seniors above age 70 across Japan, Sweden, Greece and Australia showed an 8% reduction in the risk of death for every 20 grams increase in daily legumes intake. [5]

So, what will you eat the next time you are unhappy?  

 

We hope you take a container of hummus (chickpeas) from the refrigerator, use a slice of your favorite veggie or fruit as the spoon, and go ahead and eat it all! Or eat a bag of nuts (not salted) if that is more your style. Of course, if you just can´t resist, just take one bite (not two) of chocolate. Creating new habits comes with time.

foods that make you happy and healthy 3

If you are short on ideas why not try these 4 healthy Alternative aperitifs. 

 

You will be as happy as before, and we guarantee healthier!

Erik & Iléa

 

[1]The Myth of Comfort Food; Wagner, et al.; Health Psychology 2014, Vol. 33, No. 12, 1552–1557
[2] Healthy food choices are happy food choices: Deborah Wahl, et. al. Scientific Reports 2017 7: 17069
[3] Evolution of Well-Being and Happiness After Increases in Consumption of Fruit and Vegetables; Mujik and Oswald ;     Am J Public Health, 2016;106:1504–1510  and;
Is Psychological Well-being Linked to the Consumption of Fruit and Vegetables? David G. Blanchflower, et al. NBER Working Paper No. 18469 October 2012 
[4] The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People, Dan Buettner, Nat. Geographic; 2015
[5] Legumes: the most important dietary predictor of survival in older people of different ethnicities; Irene Darmadi-Blackberry et.al; Asia Pacific J Clin. Nutr. 2004;13 (2):217-220 217