Eating more fruits and vegetables will make you happier, says new study
Find out why this study claims that increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables will make you happier
We all know that fruits and vegetables make us healthier but can it also make us happier?
Researchers from the University of Warwick think so. With their newly published study, which can be found online in the American Journal of Public Health, they hope to shed light on how increasing one’s consumption of fruits and vegetables can increase happiness levels substantially.
More than imparting new information, the study’s authors hope to encourage picky eaters to adopt healthier eating habits.
Teaming up with scientist from the University of Queensland in Australia, the researchers tracked the mood and food diaries of over 12,000 individuals, who were selected at random and asked to participate in the Household, Income, and Labor Dynamics in Australia survey in 2007, 2009, and 2013.
These voluntary participants were asked to increase their fruit and vegetable consumption to up to eight servings a day.
Following the participants’ diet and mood through their diaries over the course of several years, the study’s authors not only noted an increase in their happiness levels, but they also how it happened quickly.
For instance, the participants of the study already exhibited positive psychological effects two years from the beginning of their dietary changes–as opposed to physical effects which can be detected decades on.
These findings alone, researchers believe, should be enough to inspire everyone to adopt a healthier diet.
“Eating fruit and vegetables apparently boosts our happiness far more quickly than it improves human health,” Dr. Andrew Oswald, co-author of the study, said in a recent statement. “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.”
More about the link of fruits and vegetables to happiness on the next page
Aside from tracking each of the participant’s mood and food diaries, researchers also delved into other factors that could possibly affect their satisfaction in life, all of which were also noted in the diaries.
They documented increased overall happiness and general well-being; the effect was likened to the feeling of going from unemployment to employment.
Though researchers have yet to determine exactly why this is so, they think it has something to do with the high antioxidant content of healthy foods—perhaps taking inspiration from one study back in 2012.
The said study found that individuals with higher levels of antioxidants, specifically carotenoids, were more optimistic about the future. Carotenoids can be found in carrots, cantaloupe, sweet potato, and kale.
However, since researchers only measured their level of optimism once, they could not say conclusively whether consuming more fruits and vegetables made them more optimistic, or if they were simply already optimistic to begin with.
Despite this, researchers hope that their findings can be used by medical professionals to persuade patients to eat healthier.
This may prove to be a challenge because eating healthier does not exactly satisfy cravings for high-calorie foods. It also takes more effort and many find it to be more expensive.
Still, researchers hope their years of research will make a dent in motivating people to eat better–not just for improved physical health but mental well-being as well.