Bad moods sap our energy, and if we aren’t careful, they can hurt our ability to focus, make decisions, and manage our relationships. TalentSmartEQ’s data on nearly two-million people shows that highly emotionally intelligent people excel at managing their bad moods to minimize harm and stay effective, but managing a bad mood saps energy from everyone while good moods energize.

For this very reason, we look for practicable strategies to help people feel more positive emotions and less negative ones. According to recent research this simply strategy can go a long way to improve your mood: Add a few cups of fruits and vegetables to your existing diet.

The exact reason fruits and vegetables benefit our mood is still up for debate. From explanations like “connectedness to Earth” and “fruits and vegetables should make us feel good” to more scientific explanations like “fruits and vegetables are packed with nutrients (i.e., Vitamin C and carotenoids) that help dopamine reactions, a happiness-inducing neurotransmitter.”

While you’re figuring out the reason that works for you, here are three more reasons adding a few cups of fruit and vegetables to your day can boost your mood:

Food Can Make You Happier

In one study, people who simply ate more fruits and vegetables each day (with no other dietary changes) rated themselves as much happier. The improvements were by no means small. Their self-rated happiness was as great as that of people moving from unemployment to employment.

Food Can Make You Less Stressed

Stress creates very real consequences. On a physical level, it can debilitate your immune system, contributing to everything from the common cold to cancer. In a study at Edith Cowan University in Australia, researchers looked specifically at how eating fruits and vegetables affect stress ratings. In their study, people experienced a full 10% decrease in stress.

Food Can Help You Sleep

Diet and sleep have an interesting, chicken-and-egg kind of relationship. People who suffer from bad sleep tend to have worse diets (less protein, fewer fruits and vegetables, and more sugars). On the other hand, studies show that we don’t eat well when we don’t get enough sleep. People who get only four hours of sleep literally experience greater rewards in their brain when they eat unhealthy foods like pizza, doughnuts, and candy. Long story short, our sleep and our diet are intertwined and increasing your fruits and vegetables will tip the scales in the right direction.

From Insights to Action

You know where this is going. Eat at least three cups of fruits and vegetables per day to boost your mood, keep illness at bay, decrease stress, and balance sleep and diet. Your happiness and health depend on it.

For 66 strategies to improve your emotional intelligence, check out our book Emotional Intelligence 2.0. To learn more about emotional intelligence and TalentSmart’s EQ products and services, contact TalentSmart at 888-818-SMART or visit us at https://www.talentsmarteq.com/contact/