Here’s something to smile about: scientists have found the key to happiness – and it’s sitting right there in your fruit bowl. A new British-Australian study has established that eating fruit and vegetables improves not only physical but also mental wellbeing, which could explain why MFMers are more likely to have a smile on their faces.
Research by the University of Warwick and University of Queensland found that happiness levels rise for every extra portion of fruit or vegetables people eat, up to a maximum of eight portions a day, the positive benefits of the diet kicking in within two years. The findings were based on the psychological testing and food diaries of 12,385 randomly selected Australians.
Attempting to quantify how much happiness might increase by, the researchers said an unhealthy eater who went from zero to eight portions of fruit and veg a day might gain “life satisfaction” equivalent to a jobless person getting work.
Co-author Professor Andrew Oswald of the University of Warwick said fruit-and-veg-linked happiness levels would begin to rise almost as soon as the diet was adopted.
“Eating fruit and vegetables apparently boosts our happiness far more quickly than it improves human health,” he 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.”
Co-author Dr Redzo Mujcic of the University of Queensland was hopeful the results of the study would be more effective than traditional methods in convincing people to eat with their health in mind. “There is a psychological payoff now from fruit and vegetables, not just a lower health risk decades later,” he said.
The study – Evolution of well-being and happiness after increases in the consumption of fruit and vegetables – has been published in the American Journal of Public Health. Read it here