An apple a day keeps the blues away? According to a new study, eating fruits and vegetables increases happiness. "However," researcher Andrew Oswald tells the New York Daily News, "French fries will not count." Researchers from England's University of Warwick and the University of Queensland in Australia examined the food journals of more than 12,000 people. "Happiness benefits" were noted for each extra portion of produce consumed each day. For people who went from eating little to no fruit and vegetables each day to eating eight portions, the "feel-good factor" was on par with that experienced when going from being jobless to employed. While the health benefits of eating produce are well-known, they don't offer immediate gratification: The "well-being improvements" kick in after about two years of adopting a high-produce diet.
According to an earlier CDC study, 76% of Americans failed to eat enough fruit, while 87% didn't eat their recommended daily amount of veggies. "People’s motivation to eat healthy food is weakened by the fact that physical-health benefits, such as protecting against cancer, accrue decades later," Oswald says in a press release. "However, well-being improvements from increased consumption of fruit and vegetables are closer to immediate.” As for why fruit and vegetable consumption may boost happiness, the authors say more research is needed. However, they do speculate that increased antioxidants in the blood may play a role. (These researchers found that butter consumption could reduce diabetes risk.)