New research says people who eat more fruit and veg are happier. Jane Pikett says, bring on the greens (and reds, and oranges, and…)!
For five months until recently, a friend of mine – a physically fit vegan with a healthy diet – worked away from home during the week, staying in hotels and eating in pubs.
He was doing an active, outdoor job, so his physical fitness wasn’t too badly compromised by the lack of a local gym, but his mental wellbeing did suffer.
He quickly began to feel out of sorts – down and out, just horribly fed up for no discernible reason. Come Sunday evenings, after a couple of days at home eating homecooked food, he began to feel brighter, but as soon as he returned to microwaved meals at chain pubs, the physical and mental sluggishness returned.
In the end, he gave up the job for the good of his health and has quickly returned to his old self, fuelled on good, homecooked meals.
This set me thinking about the growing evidence for the mental health benefits of fruit and veg. Lettuce be Happy, the latest in a series of studies internationally linking mental wellbeing with fruit and veg, comes from the universities of York and Leeds. It analysed data from more than 40,000 people in the UK, and showed a positive association between the quantity of fruit and vegetables consumed and people’s self-reported mental well-being.
Specifically, the findings indicate that eating just one extra portion of fruit and vegetables a day could have an equivalent effect on mental wellbeing as increasing physical exercise. The research builds on previous work in Australia and New Zealand and followed participants over a period of time, adjusting for age, gender, occupation, physical activity etc.
Convinced? Why not? Here are some recipes to put a smile on your face!