Kale Salad

A recent study conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine has found a connection between high blood levels of certain antioxidants found in plant foods and higher levels of optimism.

While the first study of its kind to look at the relationship between antioxidant levels and mood, antioxidants are already known to boost other areas of health including slowing the aging process and supporting healthy immune function.

According to the researchers, carotenoids such as beta-carotene, were more present in the people with better moods. Nearly 1,000 men and women ages 25 to 74 were studied. The researchers measured levels of nine types of antioxidants in their blood. The researchers also had the participants fill out questionnaires designed to gauge their levels of optimism about the future. The results found that the individuals with the most positive attitudes had as much as 13 percent higher carotenoid levels than those who were less optimistic.

Carotenoids are found in green vegetables such as kale and spinach and in orange foods like sweet potatoes and carrots.

On average, the more optimistic individuals ate a minimum of three servings of vegetables per day, while the more pessimistic subjects consumed fewer than two servings of vegetables daily.

However, the study authors weren’t clear on whether or not the vegetables made the subjects more optimistic, or if more optimistic people tend to just consume vegetables more frequently. But the study authors did think there might be a stress-reducing effect from the plant foods.

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Image: t-dubisme