Happiness and mental health are highest among people who eat seven servings of fruit and vegetables a day, according to a new study.
Economists and public health researchers from the University of Warwick who studied the eating habits of 80,000 people in Britain found that mental well-being — happiness — appeared to rise with the number of daily servings of fruit and vegetables people consumed.
Well-being peaked at seven servings a day, the researchers noted. Eating more did not increase happiness after seven servings.
In most countries, governments recommend five servings a day of fruits and vegetables to promote a healthy lifestyle.
But the researchers noted that in Britain today, 25 percent of the population eat just one serving or no servings of fruit or vegetables each day.
Only a tenth of the British population consume the magic number of seven or more daily servings, according to the researchers.
“The statistical power of fruit and vegetables was a surprise. Diet has traditionally been ignored by well-being researchers,” said study co-author Sarah Stewart-Brown, M.D., professor of public health.
She emphasized that much remained to be learned about cause-and-effect and about the possible mechanisms at work, and that randomized trials should now be considered.
But her fellow researcher, economist Dr. Andrew Oswald, said he has already decided “it is prudent to eat more fruit and vegetables. I am keen to stay cheery.”
The study was carried out in conjunction with researchers from Dartmouth College.
It is due to be published in the journal Social Indicators Research.
Source: The University of Warwick