Another Reason to Eat Your Fruits and Veggies

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International Day of Happiness (March 20) is right around the corner. You might want to celebrate the day by resolving to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet. According to a study in the American Journal of Public Health, eating more fruits and vegetables may make you happier.

The study included more than 12,000 Australians of all ages. Life satisfaction and happiness increased incrementally with each daily serving of produce, with the greatest jump (from less than one portion a day to more than eight) equivalent to the gain in mental well-being that comes from moving from unemployed to employed status.

The researchers adjusted for variables that could skew the results-such as changes in income, health, marital status, and other life circumstances-concluding that the relationship found between eating produce and finding happiness was not spurious. Rather, “These findings are consistent with the idea that eating certain foods is a form of investment in future happiness and well-being,” with the psychological benefits occurring much more quickly than the physical health benefits.

It’s not clear why, but some “intriguing possibilities” are that fruits and vegetables increase serotonin levels and change brain chemistry through their effects on the microbiome.