Photo: Flickr/Harald Groven
Eating fruits and vegetables is strongly associated with peak mental well-being, according to a new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research.David G. Blanchflower, Andrew J. Oswald and Sarah Stewart-Brown have written one of the first studies on the potential influence of the different kinds of food people eat on feelings of happiness.
Using data covering 80,000 randomly selected British individuals along with seven accepted measures of well-being, they found that happiness and mental health rise in proportion to the number of daily servings of fruit and vegetables, peaking at 7-8 servings of 2.8 ounces each.
The pattern remains “remarkably robust” when adjusted for a large number of other demographic, social and economic variables, the study found.
Even after isolating confounding variables, it was found that individuals consuming at least 7 servings a day were 2.7 per cent happier than those who eat almost no fruit and vegetables.
The authors note that the rise in life satisfaction is larger than “being a non-smoker [1.9 per cent], is only a little less than that from being married [3.6 per cent], and in absolute size is more than half the coefficient of having a longstanding illness [negative 4.3 per cent]. Being unemployed, which is known from well-being research to have routinely one of the largest effects in happiness equations, is associated with approximately [negative 9 per cent].”
The scientists conclude that thinking about the types of foods we consume may be valuable for governments concerned with the ultimate happiness of their citizens.
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