Can Eating More Plants Improve Our Mood?

Did you know that people who eat plant-based, vegetarian and vegan diets tend to have healthier mood states? In fact, they are found to have less tension, anxiety, depression, anger, hostility and fatigue. Why? 

First off, vegetarians and vegans tend to consume more antioxidants due to greater consumption of fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants are known to help boost moods, decrease inflammation in the body and fight free radicals. 

In addition, vegetarians and vegans also tend to have a diet that is rich in carbohydrates and low in fat. In fact, researchers did a study on overweight men and women where one group ate a low carb, high fat diet and the other ate a high carb, low fat diet for one year. By the end of the year, the “results were consistent with epidemiological studies showing that diets high in carbohydrate and low in fat and protein are associated with lower levels of anxiety and depression and have beneficial effects on psychological well-being.” 

Not only do veggies tend to eat more healthy carbohydrates, they also tend to have lower levels of arachidonic acid. 

For those of you who are wondering, what the heck is arachidonic acid….?! It is “an inflammatory omega-6 fatty acid which can adversely impact mental health via a cascade of neuroinflammation. It may inflame your brain. High blood levels in the bloodstream have been associated with a greater likelihood of suicidal risk, for example, and major depressive episodes.”

Which foods contain arachidonic acid? Namely, chicken, meat and eggs.

While I am no doctor, research shows that people who have adapted a diet with more plants and less animal products report “a significant increase in physical functioning, general health, vitality, and mental health.” They also report “significant improvements in work productivity, thought to be due, in large part, to their improvements in health.”

The moral of the story? Keep eating those plants!