Gardening Might Improve Your Eating Habits, Study Says

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Health researchers have found that the simple act of gardening could improve one's overall health -- specifically leading to an improved state of mind, less anxiety, better sleep, etc. But now they've discovered that gardening could also help you eat better.For decades, health researchers have found that the simple act of gardening could improve one’s overall health — specifically leading to an improved state of mind, less anxiety, better sleep, etc. A new study has put a brand new spin on things, finding another benefit of gardening. It seems to make people eat more healthfully.

That’s right; better nutrition just by digging in the earth and trimming the hedges. A study found that older adults who garden may be more likely to eat their veggies. It is the result of an online survey of adults over 50. It even recommends promoting gardening “intervention” programs to older adults.

Poor nutrition is a major factor in the deaths of many older adults; even comparable to deaths caused from cigarette smoking. Though older adults tend to report a higher intake of fruit and vegetables than other age groups, over half of the U.S. older population does not meet the recommendation of five daily servings of fruit and vegetables. This new study builds on past ones that found gardening increased one’s intake of fruits and vegetables.

The study compared the produce consumption of gardeners and non-gardeners, as well as people who’ve been
gardening for a long time and new gardeners. The survey was completed by 261 adults over the age of 50.

It found that gardeners were more likely to eat vegetables than non-gardeners. Interestingly enough, this did not apply to fruit. As well, the longer one had been gardening had no relationship to the amount of fruit or vegetables consumed. Simply gardening, whether for the past week or the past decade, increased one’s likelihood of getting adequate vegetable intake.

Their findings suggest that even older adults with limited time or abilities, who can only garden for limited amounts of time, still might consume greater quantities of vegetables than people who don’t get outside and get their hands dirty.

It matters not one’s reason for gardening; this had no link with amount of produce consumed. So, get outside for anyreason, work to lessen anxiety or depression, and know that you may reap the benefits of better nutrition. Perhaps it is your proximity to the soil in which vegetables grow that subconsciously has you snap up more vegetables at the supermarket.

Whatever the case, it’s pretty interesting and a sneaky reason to pick up a hoe and plant some plants and weed some weeds.


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Dr. Victor Marchione, MD

About the Author, Browse Victor's Articles

Victor Marchione, MD received his Bachelor of Science Degree in 1973 and his Medical Degree from the University of Messina in 1981. He has been licensed and practicing medicine in New York and New Jersey for over 20 years. Dr. Marchione is a respected leader in the field of smoking cessation and pulmonary medicine. He has been featured on ABC News and World Report, CBS Evening News and the NBC Today Show and is the editor of the popular The... Read Full Bio »