A study of 12,000 people found that those who started eating more fruits and vegetables felt much happier.
Happiness benefits were detected for each extra daily portion of fruit and vegetables up to 8 portions a day. The well-being improvements occurred within 24 months.
“There is a psychological payoff now from fruit and vegetables.”
The people who changed from almost no fruit and vegetables to eight portions a day experienced an increase in life satisfaction equivalent to moving from unemployment to employment.
“Eating fruit and vegetables apparently boosts our happiness far more quickly than it improves human health,” says Andrew Oswald, a professor at the University of Warwick. “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.”
The study involved an examination of longitudinal food diaries of 12,385 randomly sampled Australian adults over 2007, 2009, and 2013. The researchers adjusted the effects on incident changes in happiness and life satisfaction for people’s changing incomes and personal circumstances.
The results might be used by health professionals to persuade people to consume more fruits and vegetables.
“Perhaps our results will be more effective than traditional messages in convincing people to have a healthy diet. There is a psychological payoff now from fruit and vegetables—not just a lower health risk decades later,” says Redzo Mujcic, a research fellow at the University of Queensland and coauthor of the study published in the American Journal of Public Health.
The researchers think it may be possible eventually to link this study to current research into antioxidants that suggests a connection between optimism and carotenoid in the blood. However they caution that additional research is needed to establish a connection.
Source: University of Warwick