Feeling Sad? Science Says You Should Eat More Veggies

How many times have you been told to eat your vegetables?

It seems like we are told to eat healthier from the moment we are born until the moment we die—all in the name of long-term health benefits and increased lifespan decades down the road. A new study from the University of Warwick, however, suggests that the benefits of eating more fruit and vegetables might actually be more immediate than anyone had previously thought.

The research, which is set to be published in the American Journal of Public health, revealed that an uptake in daily fruit and vegetable intake can significantly increase a person’s overall happiness and psychological wellbeing. The study was conducted on over 12,000 Australian individuals, and controlled for confounding variables such as income and personal circumstances.

All in all, subjects’ psychological condition improved for each additional serving of fruit and vegetables consumed daily, up to eight servings. In fact, the change in happiness level correlated with going from zero to eight servings a day was found to be equivalent to the happiness change typically seen when an individual transitions from being unemployed to being employed.

Professor Andrew Oswald, who worked on the study, 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."

While it is unclear what, exactly, about eating more fruit and vegetables increases happiness, scientists believe it could be related to the antioxidant content of such healthy foods. Nevertheless, researchers are hoping that the study’s results will motivate individuals to eat more fruit and vegetables across the board.