People who eat seven servings of fruit and vegetables a day have the highest levels of happiness and mental health, according to a recent study.
In a joint effort with Dartmouth University in Hanover, New Hampshire, researchers at the University of Warwick in Coventry, England, examined the eating habits of 80,000 people in England and found that mental well-being rose with the number of daily servings of fruits and vegetables, peaking at seven servings a day.
The study, which appears in the journal Social Indicators Research, defined a serving as about 80 grams (2.8 ounces).
"The statistical power of fruit and vegetables was a surprise. Diet has traditionally been ig. nored by well-being researchers," said study coauthor Sarah Stewart-Brown, BM, BCh, PhD, a professor of public health.
Further research is needed to learn more about the reasons behind the findings, she added.
"This study has shown surprising results, and I have decided it is prudent to eat more fruit and vegetables. I am keen to stay cheery," said study coauthor Andrew Oswald, DPhil, a professor in the economics department.
Currently, many Western governments recommend that people eat five servings of fruit and vegetables a day to protect against heart disease and cancer. The USDA recommends seven to nine daily servings, which varies depending on the age and sex of an individual. (Visit choosemyplate.gov for tips on how to follow guidelines.)
While the study found an association between fruit and vegetable servings and well-being, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.