October 10, 2012
Study Linking Diet And Happiness Says Eat Your Veggies
Alan McStravick for redOrbit.com - Your Universe OnlineAn apple a day to keep the doctor away is apparently the bare minimum you can do. And that apple may not be enough to keep you off a therapist´s couch. However, according to a new study jointly conducted by researchers at the University of Warwick and Dartmouth College, researchers have found that a key to improved mental well-being and overall happiness may be just a garden away.
In the study, the team of economists and public health researchers examined the dietary habits of 80,000 British people and found that mental well-being appeared to increase with the number of daily portions of fruit and vegetables that people consumed. They reported that the optimal number peaks at 7 portions a day, with no statistical increases in well-being found above that. The study did not determine which fruits and vegetables are most beneficial, but it defined a single portion as 80 grams, or about 2.5 ounces.
Piggybacking on a Dartmouth study published last December, the British research is set for publication in the journal Social Indicators Research.
The Dartmouth research states that most western governments have recommended a diet that includes five portions of fruit and vegetables a day for more than 20 years. While early policy was aimed at the general benefits derived from increased consumption of fresh produce, including better cardiovascular health and cancer prevention, the team at Dartmouth realized that there was very little research looking into the benefits of improved diet on mental health and well-being.
Study co-author Professor Sarah Stewart-Brown, Professor of Public Health at Warwick Medical School, said: “The statistical power of fruit and vegetables was a surprise. Diet has traditionally been ignored by well-being researchers.”
The University of Warwick study noted that even though the 5-a-day dietary recommendation is widely known, a full quarter of the British population eats just one or no portion of fruit and vegetables each day. By comparison, only about one-tenth of the English population consumes seven or more portions of fresh produce a day.
Stewart-Brown, while intrigued by the results, was careful to point out that much still remained to be learned about the cause and effect relationship as well as the possible mechanisms that may be at work. Her recommendation is that randomized trials should now be considered for follow-up research studies.
Economist and co-author of the study Professor Andrew Oswald from the Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE) at the University of Warwick´s Department of Economics said: “This study has shown surprising results and I have decided it is prudent to eat more fruit and vegetables. I am keen to stay cheery.”