Eating more fruit and vegetables can substantially increase happiness levels

July 11, 2016
Credit: Anna Langova/Public Domain

University of Warwick research indicates that eating more fruit and vegetables can substantially increase people's later happiness levels.

To be published shortly in the prestigious American Journal of Public Health, the study is one of the first major scientific attempts to explore psychological well-being beyond the traditional finding that and vegetables can reduce risk of cancer and heart attacks.

Happiness benefits were detected for each extra daily portion of fruit and vegetables up to 8 portions per day.

The researchers concluded that people who changed from almost no fruit and veg to eight portions of fruit and veg a day would experience an increase in life satisfaction equivalent to moving from unemployment to employment. The well-being improvements occurred within 24 months.

Cancer

The study followed more than 12,000 randomly selected people. These subjects kept food diaries and had their measured. The authors found large positive psychological benefits within two years of an improved diet.

Professor Andrew Oswald 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 work is a collaboration between the University of Warwick, England and the University of Queensland, Australia. The researchers found that happiness increased incrementally for each extra daily portion of fruit and vegetables up to eight portions per day. The study involved an examination of longitudinal of 12,385 randomly sampled Australian adults over 2007, 2009, and 2013 in the Household, Income, and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey. The authors adjusted the effects on incident changes in happiness and for people's changing incomes and personal circumstances.

Western diet

The study has policy implications, particularly in the developed world where the typical citizen eats an unhealthy diet. The findings could be used by health professionals to persuade people to consume more fruits and vegetables.

Dr Redzo Mujcic, research fellow at the University of Queensland, said: "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."

The authors 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. One part of the study examined information from the Australian Go for 2&5 Campaign. The campaign was run in some Australian states which have promoted the consumption of two portions of fruit and five portions of each day.

Antioxidants

The academics think it may be possible eventually to link this study to current research into antioxidants which suggests a connection between optimism and carotenoid in the blood. However they argue that further research is needed in this area.

Explore further: Fruit and veggies pave the road to happiness

More information: "Evolution of well-being and happiness after increases in the consumption of fruit and vegetables." American Journal of Public Health. ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/

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5 comments

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Gigel
not rated yet Jul 11, 2016
For those wondering, it seems that 1 portion of fresh fruit or vegetables = 80 g according to the Internet.
KBK
not rated yet Jul 11, 2016
Our issue is one of so called poverty and the way the western system is arranged. It makes it difficult for those in poverty to obtain anything but canned and prepped foods. People have forgotten to how to cook, and other such simplicities which used to be the cornerstone of the more simple low budget diet.

the fruit and vegetables have largely been priced out of their reach and their capacity to deal with, regarding cost and ability to prepare, store, etc. (see: toilet paper costs study for the poor vs well off)

As resource and fundamentals tied to crops, land, overtaxing, economies, etc....as all that has changed in demographic and overall considerations, we've lost the ability to reach the potential for an effective fruit and vegetable diet.

A odd thing..but it can be said with a certain level of accuracy: It used to be only the (western) poor who could afford to eat simply and well.

Nowadays, that has been turned on it's head.
Racklefratz
not rated yet Jul 11, 2016
A odd thing..but it can be said with a certain level of accuracy: It used to be only the (western) poor who could afford to eat simply and well. Nowadays, that has been turned on it's head.


It's the demorrhoid politicians who have "turned it on its head". They promise voters they'll "take care of them" and it never materializes. The poor keep believing the promises which never come, and keep voting for the same demorrhoid politicians who use them as a power base, and the voters never understand that they're being used. So it goes.
LifeBasedLogic
Jul 11, 2016
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
SusejDog
not rated yet Jul 11, 2016
The dumb editors couldn't even provide a working URL to the study. Here it is, with free full-text, and it works at this time: http://ajph.aphap...6.303260

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