People get it — fruits and veggies are wholesome and necessary. The problem, according to public-health researchers, is it’s hard to convince lax eaters to chow down on more of them when the reasoning basically boils down to You’ll be healthier 20 years from now. Except now there’s research suggesting a more immediate benefit to a diet high in vegetables and fruits: A group of scientists followed more than 12,000 people over a six-year period, and they write in a new paper that eating more of these healthy foods not only decreases the risk of long-term complications like heart attack and cancer, but it also makes people happier about life in the short term.
They found that happiness “increased incrementally for each extra daily portion of fruit and vegetables” that a person added. Most tellingly, subjects who went from having zero veggies in their diets to consuming eight portions per day reportedly felt an increase in life satisfaction “equivalent to moving from unemployment to employment,” which would seemingly make for a pretty significant paradigm shift.
The authors say their finding could motivate more people to rethink such meat-heavy diets, since this data shows “a psychological payoff now from fruit and vegetables — not just a lower health risk decades later.” They admit there isn’t enough research yet into what’s causing these higher spirits — that’s presumably the next step — but they add it could have something to do with maybe the antioxidants in veggies and fruits, suggesting feelings like optimism could be linked to carotenoid in the blood.