From every turn we are encouraged, cajoled and admonished to eat more fruits and vegetables. From the “5 a Day” campaign to Produce for Better Health, to the First Lady, Dr. Oz and Jamie Oliver on the Food Network we have been bombarded with this message. No one could have escaped it unless you live under the proverbial rock. Doing it, on the other hand, has been more elusive. The “5 a Day” campaign began in 1994 and the latest research shows that only 31% of adults between 19 and 64 are reaching that goal. For kids it is actually only 1 in 10. Later research shows that even more servings are actually optimal-somewhere between 5 and 9 servings per day. Last year a new icon was released called the “My Plate” to show us in picture form how to eat with half the plate made up of fruits and vegetables.
Economists and public health researchers from the University of Warwick studied the eating habits of 80,000 people in Britain. This study found that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables not only improves your physical health, it helps your emotional well being as well! The study determined that happiness and mental health are highest among people who eat seven 3oz portions of fruit and/or vegetables per day.
The study did not distinguish among different kinds of fruits and vegetables, nor did it matter whether the fruits and vegetables were fresh, frozen or canned. (good news for US!)
Co-author, economist Professor Andrew Oswald from the Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE) in the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick, said: “This study has shown surprising results and I have decided it is prudent to eat more fruit and vegetables. I am keen to stay cheery.”
This time of year many people suffer from Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) , a kind of depression that occurs at a certain time of the year, usually in the winter. It is not known whether this is strictly related to changes in the weather due to long periods of dreary rain and cold, the holidays or some combination. But it can’t hurt to combat with some extra fruits and vegetables.
I am with Dr. Oswald. For those of us “keen to stay cheery” eat more Oregon Fruit!