We all know that eating more fruit and veg makes you healthier – but there’s now evidence that it also makes you happier.
A new Australian study has found that people who switched from eating almost no fruit and vegetables to eating eight portions a day experienced an increase in life satisfaction equivalent to what an unemployed person feels after finding a job. And unlike the health benefits, which are long-term, the improvements in life satisfaction occurred within two years. This might, say the researchers, provide a better way of encouraging reluctant veg-eaters to take up the habit.
“People’s motivation to eat healthy food is weakened by the fact that physical-health benefits, such as protecting against cancer, accrue decades later,” says study co-author Redzo Mujcic of the University of Queensland. “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.”
It’s not yet clear why eating more fruit and veg increases life satisfaction, but previous research has suggested that higher levels of carotenoids, found in some fruits and vegetables, are linked to increased optimism. Studies have also suggested that an increased intake of vitamin B12, also present in fruit and veg, may boost serotonin, which plays a role in regulating mood.
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