Trying to conjure up foods that correlate with happiness causes the mind’s eye to pull up rich foods: sweets and creams and things cooked in a gallon of butter. But according to a new study from researchers at the University of Warwick and the University of Queensland, that inner vision is hella stupid. The scientists found that increasing daily servings of fruits and vegetables will substantially increase happiness.
The study followed more than 12,000 people and asked them to keep diaries of what they ate for several years, while measuring their psychological well-being. The study found that people who increased their fruits and vegetable intake saw increased happiness up to the recommended eight servings per day. Maybe it was the cynical joy of knowing you’re destroying the Earth or the smug satisfaction of practicing better habits than your friends, but this still feels like a win.
“Eating fruit and vegetables apparently boosts our happiness far more quickly than it improves human health,” said University of Warwick Professor Andrew Oswald. “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 claim that the change in happiness levels for a person who goes from no fruits and veggies to eight servings is akin to the change seen when a person goes from unemployed to employed. The researchers are hoping that the study can be used to convince people to eat healthier, particularly in Western nations.
“Perhaps our results will be more effective than traditional messages in convincing people to have a healthy diet,” said University of Queensland research fellow Dr. Redzo Mujcic. “There is a psychological payoff now from fruit and vegetables — not just a lower health risk decades later.”
(Via Science Daily)