According to University of Warwick (England) researchers, eating more fruit and vegetables does more than protect against disease. It also substantially increases how happy you'll feel later on.
The study, soon be published in the American Journal of Public Health, is one of the first major scientific attempts to explore psychological well-being beyond the traditional finding that fruit and vegetables can reduce risk of cancer and heart attacks.
The researchers concluded that people who changed their diets from almost no fruit and vegetables to eight servings a day, experienced an increase in life satisfaction equivalent to moving from unemployment to employment. The well-being improvements occurred within 24 months.
The study followed more than 12,000 randomly selected people. The participants kept food diaries and had their psychological well-being measured.
A psychological payoff from fruits and vegetables
The researchers found large positive psychological benefits within two years of eating an improved diet, even after taking into account other influences of psychological well-being including changes in people's incomes and life circumstances.
Happiness increased incrementally for each extra daily serving of fruit and vegetables up to eight servings per day.
Read: Easy ways to include whole fruit in your diet
Antioxidants may play a role
Previous research into antioxidants suggests a connection between optimism and carotenoids in the bloodstream. However, further research is needed in this area. Carotenoids are a family of phytochemicals which include beta-carotene (carrots, sweet potato, peaches), alpha-carotene (pumpkin, carrrots, winter squash), lycopene (tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit) and lutein (spinach, kale, collard greens).
Source: University of Warwick, United Kingdom.
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