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Happiness

Boost Happiness and Mental Health by Eating 7 Servings of Fruits and Vegetables per Day

posted 01:31 AM EST, Wed October 10, 2012
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Researchers say that people who eat more fruits and vegetables, up to a cap at 7 servings per day, are happier and have fewer mental health problems

Eat more fruits and veggies and be happier?

Well, maybe so - researchers at the University of Warwick and Dartmouth College can’t explain why, but after looking at the dietary habits of some 80 000 people in the UK they can say that on average, people that eat more fruits and vegetables are happier individuals.

The Study

The researchers analyzed data from a large sample of study subjects to see how eating fruits and vegetables affected mental health and happiness.

For the data, the researchers accessed three cross sectional health surveys of approximately 80 000 randomly selected citizens of the UK. Each health survey provided information on dietary habits and on happiness and well-being factors, such as life satisfaction, mental well-being, presence of mental disorders, nervousness, low feelings and self reported health and happiness.

The Results

  • Even after controlling for confounding variables related to socioeconomic advantage they found that people get happier as they eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Happiness and well-being increases in a dose dependent manor as people eat more fruits and vegetables, until it peaks at 7 servings per day (a single serving = 80 grams of raw fruit or vegetables)
  • Although many governments recommend 5 portions per day to reduce cancer and cardiovascular disease risk, in the UK about a quarter of the population eat 1 or fewer portions of fruit or vegetables per day and only 10% consumed 7 or more portions per day.

Commentary

The authors call for future research to investigate how and why eating more vegetables has such a strong influence on well-being, stating, “Human beings, like all animals, are fueled by the food and liquid they consume. Yet the literature on well-being has largely ignored the nature of people’s diets….there seem grounds here for the funding of randomized trials to explore the consequences for mental health of different levels of fruit-and-vegetable consumption.”

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Story Highlights
  • More Veggies = More Happiness: People who eat more fruit and vegetables are happier and have fewer mental health problems than people who consume little fresh produce
  • 7 a Day for Best Results: The researchers say people tend to get happier as they eat more servings per day, until benefits level off at 7 servings per day.
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