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22 October 2012
What makes you happy? Perhaps it is the first coffee of the morning that constitutes happiness to you? Maybe it is finding a pair of pants that makes your bum look three sizes smaller? Could it be finding yourself asked to take your trolley to a newly opened checkout when you were third in line and had been waiting for fifteen minutes? Or is it alignment of your own will with that of the divine intelligence? Whatever happiness is for you new research has found that you are more likely to experience it if you eat a certain level of fruit and vegetables each day.
The research comes from the University of Warwick where economists and public health researchers combined to survey emotional wellbeing and the eating habits of 80,000 people in Britain. They found that mental wellbeing increased with each portion of fruit and vegetables consumed. For this study the researchers did not distinguish between different fruits and vegetables and defined a portion as 80 grams.
The researchers found that happiness peaked at seven portions per day. This happens to accord precisely with the Australian government’s recommendation for fruit and veg intake (“2 & 5”). See, the government really do want you to be happy! The question is though, are we eating what the government and our own metal health requires?
According to Yearbook Australia published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in May 2012 not many adults meet these levels of consumption. The statistics tell us that among adults over 19 years of age around nine per cent usually eat five or more serves of vegetables and one or more serves of fruit a day. A further 11 per cent usually eat four serves of vegetables and one or more serves of fruit a day and 23 per cent usually eat three serves of vegetables and one or more serves of fruit a day.
A bit more fruit and veg, it seems, might make us not only a healthier nation but a happier one as well.
However, to return to the question we began with, “what makes you happy” is a question that misses the point of happiness. Nothing can make you happy but you can cultivate a happy disposition. Perhaps a diet featuring fruit and vegetables allows the healthy body and mind that frees you to cultivate that happy spirit? Whatever the reason, let’s raise a carrot stick and crunch to happiness!