Is the glass half empty or half full? Oddly enough, your answer could depend on how many servings of vegetables you’re eating each day. That’s right—in addition to helping fight disease, making your skin look better, and fueling your guns, produce may pack an optimism-boosting punch.
According to new research from the Harvard School of Public Health, people who rated themselves as optimistic had 13% higher levels of carotenoids–plant pigments found in foods like spinach, kale, carrots and squash–in their blood compared to their more pessimistic counterparts. But just how many servings of vegetables do you need to down in order to cheer up? According to the study, which included 1,000 American men and women ages 25 to 74, those who consumed two or fewer servings of produce a day were less optimistic than those who ate three or more servings.
Still, veggies may be only part of the equation. The researchers note that people who eat more vegetables may simply be happier than their less plant-loving counterparts in the first place. More optimistic people also tend to live healthier lifestyles. Regardless, eating more produce will help your health in one way or another, so why not up the ante? The American Heart Association recommends that most adults shoot for 4.5 cups of fruits and veggies daily.
Here are some ways to get more carotenoid-rich foods into your diet: