Researchers in New Zealand have found that people whose diets are rich in fruits and vegetables experience frequent sensations of purpose, engagement, curiosity, and creativity–qualities we commonly identify with a well-rounded and content lifestyle. Conducted by psychologist Tamlin Conner at the University of Otago, the study featured 405 participants who kept a daily diary for 13 consecutive days of their food intake. They also responded to daily survey questions intended to measure creativity, curiosity and psychological flourishing in general.
The results: People who ate more fruits and vegetables over the 13-day period reported higher average levels of curiosity, creativity, and positive emotions, as well as engagement, meaning, and purpose. … Even more strikingly, participants tended to score higher on all of those scales on days when they ate more fruits and vegetables.
While the study cannot confirm a causal link between eating healthily and living a full life, the micronutrients contained in fruits and vegetables may provide the psychological boost observed in study participants. Vitamin C, for example, is essential for the production of dopamine, the brain’s feel-good chemical that promotes engagement with the world. And antioxidants are thought to reduce inflammation in the body, decreasing the likelihood of depression.