Can eating more fruit and vegetables make you happier?
If you’re looking for an extra boost in happiness, it might be time to turn to the crisper.
Researchers from the University of Queensland and the University of Warwick, UK, analysed the food diaries of 12,385 randomly sampled Australian adults to work out if there was an increase in psychological wellbeing when people ate more fruit and vegetables.
To make sure nothing else was skewing the results, the researchers also considered situations that could impact happiness and life satisfaction, like changing incomes and personal circumstances.
They found that when people increased their fruit and vegetable intake it was “predictive of increased happiness, life satisfaction and wellbeing”.
And the improvement wasn’t small. Within 2 years, those who upped their veggie intake the most - 8 serves a day - saw a big increase in life satisfaction and wellbeing. The effect was the same boost someone feels when they get a job after being unemployed.
So what’s a serve?
A serving of vegetables is measured as:
half a cup of cooked vegetables, or
1 cup of salad vegetables.
A serving of fruit is classified as:
1 medium piece of fruit like and apple or orange, or
2 pieces of smaller fruit like apricots or plums.
Plant based benefits in weeks
But you don’t have to wait as long as the research to see the benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables.
A study comparing Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP) participants encouraged to follow a plant based diet versus those who weren’t found that, after 6 weeks, the plant based group saw a significant increase in mental health.
Beyond happiness, we also know that upping vegetable intake can provide a range of other health benefits. After 30 days, the average CHIP participant saw improvements in their cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar levels and BMI.
And when you pack in more of the good stuff, you’re also leaving less space for the not so good.
By shopping seasonally, you can get the best quality fruit and vegetables at the best prices.
Here are some of our in season favourites:
artichokes, beans, leeks, peas, snow peas, spinach, sweet corn, mandarins, bananas, strawberries, cherries and rockmelon.
asparagus, avocadoes, eggplant, squash, zucchini flowers, apricots, blueberries, watermelon, mangoes, pineapple and nectarines.
Asian greens, onions, cabbage, carrots, sweet potato, turnips, mushrooms, custard apples, figs, lemons, limes, pears, peaches and rhubarb.
beetroot, olives, parsnips, silverbeet, kale, celery, cauliflower, apples, persimmons, nashi pears, grapefruit.
Try these delicious vegetable recipes
Vegetable fritters with tomato salsa
Tofu vegetable stack with herb lemon sauce
Baked vegetables with dates and feta
Satay tofu and vegetables
Moroccan vegetables with couscous
Roast vegetable salad
Warm Asian green salad