London - Getting your five-a-day isn’t just good for your health – it could also give you a healthy love life.
Research shows that eating lots of fruit and vegetables gives people a golden glow that makes them look more attractive
And as we don’t find the yellowy colour more appealing in other contexts, the researchers believe we have learnt to link bronzed skin with good health.
This could help us pick a mate and also ensure we avoid sickly sorts who might pass on an infection.
Those who find it difficult to eat their greens will be pleased to know that even one or two extra portions a day can make a difference.
The finding comes from York, St Andrews and Cambridge University researchers who took photos of 20 men and women and then adjusted them to create four different versions.
In one set of images, the faces had the golden glow of someone who eats a lot of fruit and veg and in a second they had the less healthy complexion of someone who eats few greens.
The third and fourth sets also had contrasting skin tones but the faces were jumbled up to create abstract images that were unrecognisable as being human.
Volunteers then rated the attractiveness of the images.
The yellowness of the abstract images didn’t make a difference but the more golden faces were clearly judged as being better looking.
The results suggest that rather than being a colour we find attractive in general, yellow tells us something special when part of someone’s skin tone.
York University researcher Carmen Lefevre said: “This suggests we use it in other people as a quick test of who could be healthy vand, perhaps more importantly, who may be unhealthy. You don’t want to touch someone who has an illness you might catch.”
Previous research has shown that the golden glow of those who eat their greens is due to plant chemicals called carotenoids, the yellow, orange and red pigments in fruit and vegetables.
Absorbed by the body and distributed in the skin, they appear yellowish gold to the naked eye.
Carotenoids boost the human immune system and although they are most commonly associated with carrots, they are also abundant in green fruits and vegetables.
Even small amounts can make a difference.
Dr Lefevre, who is working up to eating five-a-day, said: “Other work we have shown that eating one or two more portions makes a visible difference after only four weeks.”
Her finding, reported in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters, could also explain why a suntan is often described as a healthy glow.
The researcher said: “Some other work that our lab has done indicates that people prefer a tan to no tan.
“However, they seem to prefer the carotenoid colour more than a tan. Eating more fruit is better than going in the sun.”
She suggests that people eat a variety of different fruit and vegetables to get the most benefit. - Daily Mail