The Happiness Diet

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People who eat diets packed with colorful fruits and vegetables boost their happiness quotient, according to a study from the University of Queensland in Australia and the University of Warwick, UK. Food diaries of 12,385 adults were gathered and were compared to psychological well-being between 2007 and 2013. Results showed that people who changed from almost no fruit and vegetables to eight portions a day showed large positive psychological benefits within two years of the change. The researchers conclude that, “…eating fruit and vegetables apparently boosts our happiness far more quickly than it improves [physical]health. 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 fruits and vegetables are closer to immediate.”

In Perspective: I have been saying the same thing since my first book, Food & Mood, came out in 1995. It is refreshing to find a research study that concludes that what you eat affects mental and emotional health far faster, and in some cases as or more dramatically, than it does physical health. While this study found it took two years to notice improvements in mood great enough that they showed up on a psychological measurement scale, in truth, what you eat or don’t eat for breakfast will have subtle effects on mood and mind by mid-afternoon.

Mujcic R, Oswald A: Evolution of well-being and happiness after increases in consumption of fruit and vegetables. American Journal of Public Health 2016;106:1504-1510.

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