Eating at least seven portions of fruit and vegetables per day has been associated with increased happiness and mental health, according to a new British study.
Don’t worry—be happy! Easy enough to say, but researchers in the UK have some evidence to show that simply eating at least seven portions of fruit and vegetables per day can help improve mental health and well-being.
Though diet has been studied extensively in relation to other health indicators—lower blood pressure; reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and some cancers; better blood sugar control; lower risk of eye and digestive problems—mental health as it relates to diet has not been well studied.
The researchers looked at three large survey studies involving approximately 80,000 randomly selected British individuals and used seven different measures of well-being. Their study, “Is Psychological Well-being Linked to the Consumption of Fruit and Vegetables?” will be published in the journal Social Indicators Research.
Though the researchers were surprised at the results, they also advise caution in interpreting their results, that more research will be required. “The statistical power of fruit and vegetables was a surprise,” says co-author Sarah Stewart-Brown, professor at the University of Warwick.
Fellow co-author, economist Professor Andrew Oswald from the Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE) in the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick, said: “This study has shown surprising results and I have decided it is prudent to eat more fruit and vegetables. I am keen to stay cheery.”
Canadians could be happier
Only about 40 percent of Canadians over 12 years old reported they consumed fruit and vegetables at least five times per day (Statistics Canada doesn’t report specific numbers beyond five). Incidentally, this was a decrease over the previous few years; the number was up to 45.6 percent in 2009.
And, of course, women were more likely than men to consume fruit and vegetables at least five times a day (47 percent versus 33 percent). Just think how much happier we might all be if we upped our fruit and veg quotient!