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Happiness Is (Literally) a Bowl of Cherries

Researchers say the more fruits and vegetables you eat, the happier you’ll be.

StockSnap.io, used with permission.
Source: StockSnap.io, used with permission.

In a study published in the August 2016 issue of the American Journal of Public Health, Australian researchers reviewed the food diaries of more than 12,000 adults and found that those who ate more fruit and vegetables were happier and felt more satisfied with their lives. The researchers point out that many people are not motivated to eat healthier foods because the rewards of improved health are not immediate, that the benefits of a healthy lifestyle are evidenced later on in life, and that’s too far in the future to motivate some younger people to act now.

But this study, published in the August 2016 issue of the American Journal of Public Health, found that those who increased the amount of fruits and vegetables they ate by 8 servings a day experienced improved feelings of happiness, well-being and life satisfaction within two years.

In a report released earlier this year, Iranian researchers who surveyed more than 500 medical students found that those with healthier eating patterns, including having more than eight servings of fruits and vegetables each day, had higher happiness scores. In this case, eating breakfast was also found to be an indicator of more happiness.

Eight servings of fruits and vegetables sounds like a lot, but the amount that is considered a serving is actually quite small. In fact, it’s quite easy to get two or three servings in each meal, and fill in with snacks. According to USDA,

  • One serving of fruit = one medium-size piece of whole fruit, or 1 cup cut-up or sliced fruit, or 100% fruit juice, or ½ cup of dried fruit.
  • One serving of vegetables =1 cup raw or cooked vegetables or vegetable juice, or 2 cups in the case of raw leafy greens, such as spinach, lettuce or kale.

For more information on servings sizes of specific fruits and vegetables, check out USDA's MyPlate.

Sources:

Mujcic R and OswaldAJ. Evolution of well-being and happiness after consumption of fruit and vegetables. American Journal of Public Health. August 2016;106(8):1504-1510. http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2016.303260

Lesani A, Mohammadpoorasl A, Javadi M, Esfeh JM, Fakhari A. Eating breakfast, fruit and vegetable intake, and their relation with happiness in college students. Eating and Weight Disorders: Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity. 26 February 2016.:1-7 http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40519-016-0261-0

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