Happiness may only be a kale salad away. Add a bowl of fruit and you may be even closer to banishing the blues, according to the findings of a new study of more than 12,000 people.
The research is the first, major effort to see if there is a psychological impact, a improvement in a sense of well-being, connected with eating fresh fruit and vegetables. Many studies have found that eating fruits and vegetables daily reduces you risk of developing cancer or heart disease, but this is the first research to show that a healthy diet may make you feel better about life.
In a study to be published in the upcoming issue of the American Journal of Public Health, happiness benefits were detected for each extra daily portion of fruit and vegetables up to eight portions per day.
The researchers concluded that people who changed from almost no fruit and vegetable consumption, to eight portions of fruit and vegetables a day would experience an increase in life satisfaction equivalent to moving from unemployment to employment. The well-being improvements occurred within 24 months.
To monitor their eating habits, the 12,000 study subjects kept food diaries and had their psychological well-being measured. The authors found large positive psychological benefits within two years of an improved diet.
Professor Andrew Oswald, lead author of the study speaking during a University of Warwick interview, said: “Eating fruit and vegetables apparently boosts our happiness far more quickly than it improves human health. 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 researchers found that happiness increased incrementally for each extra daily portion of fruit and vegetables up to eight portions per day. The authors adjusted the effects on incident changes in happiness and life satisfaction for people’s changing incomes and personal circumstances.
The researchers also found that alterations in fruit and vegetable intake were predictive of later alterations in happiness and satisfaction with life. They took into account many other influences, including changes in people’s incomes and life circumstances. Antioxidants
The study authors say more research is needed, but they think it may be possible eventually to link this study to current research that suggests a connection between optimism and of antioxidants such as carotenoid in the blood. Carotenoid is the natural pigment that gives many fruits and vegetables their color, such as the bright orange color of carrots and apricots.