London - For years we’ve been told to eat at least five portions of fruit and veg a day to stay healthy.
But now scientists claim if we upped it to seven, we’d also be far happier.
They have discovered that people who eat between seven and eight portions a day felt more cheerful, loved and optimistic about the future.
The researchers analysed surveys involving 80,000 Britons, which included questions on their diet and general feelings.
Each person was given a score between 0 and ten based on their satisfaction with life. The study found that those who ate around eight portions of fruit and vegetables a day had an average score that was one point higher than people who did not eat any.
The link remained even when people’s exercise levels and overall diet – both of which can influence mood – were accounted for.
Although it is not known exactly how fruit and veg improve wellbeing, they contain chemicals known as antioxidants, which are thought to reduce stress levels.
Recently studies have found that children who eat more fruit and veg are less at risk of depression in later life.
Professor Andrew Oswald, of the Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy at Warwick University’s Department of Economics, which conducted the research, said: “This study has shown surprising results. It’s an incredibly strong pattern and we were stunned when we initially looked at the data.
“We think we’re on to something really important here. However, we don’t really know why this is – whether there is something in the biochemistry of the fruit and veg which works inside humans.
“We know that fruit and veg carry a lot of antioxidants and those protect us against attacks on the body. But how that works through into our minds and emotions, researchers have no idea.
“I have decided it is prudent to eat more fruit and vegetables. I am keen to stay cheery. If I were (British Prime Minister) David Cameron I would be getting my health advisers in and saying, ‘Should we be increasing the message to seven-a-day?’”
The study, published in the journal Social Indicators Research, concludes: “Our findings are consistent with the need for high levels of fruit and vegetable consumption for mental health and not merely for physical health.”
The Department of Health has spent at least £4-million on its “five a day” advertising campaign since it was launched in 2003.
In contrast, the French are told to eat ten portions a day, the Canadians between five and ten, and the Japanese 13 portions of vegetables and four pieces of fruit. - Daily Mail