Great news! New research has shown that simply eating more fruits and vegetables (up to eight serves a day) can actually make you happier. If it weren’t already enough that they can decrease risk for lifestyle related diseases such as heart disease and cancer as well as helping to manage weight due to their low energy/ high fibre content. If it wasn’t already enough that vegetables can decrease risk for lifestyle-related diseases, new research has shown that simply eating more vegetables (up to eight serves a day) can actually make you happier.
University of Warwick research indicates that eating more fruit and vegetables can substantially increase people’s later happiness levels. To be published shortly in the prestigious American Journal of Public Health, the study is one of the first major scientific attempts to explore psychological well-being beyond the traditional finding that fruit and vegetables can reduce risk of cancer and heart attacks.
The increase in happiness was comparable to that of moving from unemployment to employment – one life-situation known to be most stressful. The benefits were seen with each extra portion of fruit and vegetables consumed each day.
This may be even more incentive to increase fruit and veg consumption than for the health benefits, which often people can’t appreciate until they are already unwell.
The researchers found that happiness increased incrementally for each extra daily portion of fruit and vegetables up to eight portions per day. The study involved an examination of longitudinal food diaries of 12,385 randomly sampled Australian adults over 2007, 2009, and 2013 in the Household, Income, and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey. The authors adjusted the effects on incident changes in happiness and life satisfaction for people’s changing incomes and personal circumstances.
The authors found large positive psychological benefits within two years of an improved diet. Professor Andrew Oswald said: People’s motivation to eat healthy food is weakened by the fact that physical-health benefits, such as protecting against cancer, accrue decades later. However, well-being improvements from increased consumption of fruit and vegetables are closer to immediate.
Later research will be looking in to the exact processes behind the boost in mood – perhaps antioxidants link with positive mood. In the mean time, it is another great message to support an increased intake in fruit and vegetables.