Happiness and Carrots – The New Study

benefits of carotenoids to improve mood health

If you’re looking to improve your mood health and decrease your stress levels you may want to consider eating a few more carrots every day.  While you have probably heard that eating carrots is good for eye health, you may be surprised to learn that carrot consumption may actually affect brain function and improve your mood health according to new research from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Study on Diet and Mood Health


Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, led by Julia K. Boehm, PhD, studied 982 men and women from the Midlife in the United States study.  They looked at self-reported mood health (using optimism as a measure) and serum concentrations of nine different antioxidants.   The researchers then analyzed the data to determine the relationship between optimism and antioxidant concentrations.

While the results didn’t show an association between optimism and Vitamin E levels, they did show that mood health and carotenoid levels are definitely linked.  As optimism increased, carotenoid concentration increased by 3-13%.   The researchers determined that fruit and vegetable intake as well as smoking status were possible ways in which optimism and serum concentration of carotenoids were related.

This research shows that carotenoids and mood health are related; however the way in which they’re related isn’t definitive.  The researchers state that it may be possible that optimistic people are more likely to engage in healthier behaviours such as eating healthier diets (including lots of fruits and veggies), exercising more frequently, choosing not to smoke, limiting alcohol consumption and being better equipped to manage stress.  Additional research is needed to determine the exact connection between carotenoid levels and optimism.

Health Benefits of Carotenoids in Addition to Improved Mood Health

Even though the link between antioxidants, such as carotenoids, and brain function is not completely understood, other health benefits of antioxidants are well documented.   These benefits include protecting cells from free radical damage, improving immune system function, maintaining eye health and helping to protect against diseases including diabetes, some cancers and heart disease.   That being said, adding fruits and vegetables that contain carotenoids into your diet will provide you with an array of health benefits and may even help to improve your brain function helping you to experience improved mood health.

Optimism and Decreased Stress

Being optimistic can have a positive impact on your health and is a key factor in stress management.

Lower levels of stress are associated with a number of health benefits so learning how to manage your stress is vital to living a healthy lifestyle.  According to the Mayo Clinic, in addition to decreased stress, being optimistic and thinking positively can help to increase your lifespan, decrease your risk of depression, improve your immune system response to the common cold, and decrease your risk of death from cardiovascular disease.


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Although it’s not known how antioxidants and brain function, including improved mood health, are related adding additional fruits and vegetables into your diet is a healthy idea.  Food sources that are high in carotenoids and which may help you to deal with stress and live a happier life include carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, collard greens, bell peppers, tomatoes and kale. Try adding these foods into your diet on a regular basis to experience mood health benefits and live a healthier life.

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