While you may think of true happiness as the moment you dive mouth-first into a plate of bacon or slice into a perfectly cooked steak, new research suggests that if you really want to be a happier person, then you should chow down on more of the opposite: fruit and vegetables. Really.
As explained in a report by Munchies, a new study from scientists in England and Australia finds that simply eating more fruit and vegetables can dramatically improve your level of happiness. The researchers claim the effect is so powerful that people who went from eating zero servings of fruit and vegetables a day to eight servings per day experienced an increase in happiness and satisfaction "equivalent to moving from unemployment to employment," according to a press release.
Of course, it's no secret that eating lots of fruit and vegetables is generally good for you and could reduce your risk of cancer and heart disease over a long period of time, but the researchers claim the new study is among the first to look at how these foods impact your psychological well-being in the short term. Improvements in your happiness, they concluded, can occur as soon as within two years, which is just another great reason to hit up your local farmer's market.
“Eating fruit and vegetables apparently boosts our happiness far more quickly than it improves human health," Andrew Oswald, a professor at the University of Warwick, said in a statement. "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.”
The study, which will appear in the next issue of the American Journal of Public Health, analyzed data on more than 12,000 randomly selected subjects who maintained food diaries and received regular psychological well-being tests. The researchers observed incremental increases in the participants' happiness for each portion of fruit or vegetables they ate every day, up to eight portions. In other words, simply adding a side of salad or whatever's in season to each of your meals every day can potentially make you feel better.
The bottom line: the next time you feel like crap, head over to your local produce section and go wild. You'll never look at a zucchini the same way again.