The Happiness Diet? 7 Fruits and Veggies a Day

A new study finds connection between mood and food

Seven, rather than five, servings of fruits and vegetables can maximize mental and physical health.

A new study from economists and public health researchers at the University of Warwick and Dartmouth College indicates that the more servings of fruits and vegetables you eat, the happier you are.

Data from several randomized, cross-sectional surveys helped researchers evaluate the eating habits of about 80,000 people in the U.K. The fruits and vegetables typically eaten by each person were compared with his or her life satisfaction, mental well-being, presence of mental disorders, self-reported health, happiness, nervousness and how often they felt “low.”

The findings -- which studied correlations, not causality -- showed that happiness and mental health rose with the number of daily portions of fruits and vegetables.  While several indexes maxed out at five servings, a sense of mental well-being peaked at seven.

And when it came to life-satisfaction, those who ate more fruits and vegetables were way ahead.  The effect corresponded to between 0.25 and 0.33 life-satisfaction points. To compare, unemployment (considered to have a huge effect) corresponds to a 0.90 loss of life-satisfaction points.

The full study will be published in the journal Social Indicators Research.