Insider’s Viewpoint: Getting a Healthy and Happy Start to the New Year
What if eating more fruits and veggies, something so many of us resolve to do anyway, was potentially linked with how happy we are? We are all well aware that fruit and veggie consumption is known to be related to health benefits such as lowered risk for heart disease, cancer, and high blood pressure. But did you know that emerging science is making connections between people who eat more fruits and veggies and increased levels of happiness, life satisfaction, and better mental well-being?1
Researchers from the University of Warwick analyzed dietary habits of 80,000 British women and men.1 Over a 24-month period, it was found that extra servings of fruits and veggies were associated with increased happiness levels and that 7-8 servings per day was the magic number in this study population for the happiest people. Just how much happier are these individuals? According to the study, if an individual went from eating no produce to eating eight servings per day over the 24-month period, they experienced a 0.24 increase on average in their happiness score (scored 1-10). Although that may not sound like a large boost, the increase can be compared to the feeling of going from unemployed to employed.1
Research conducted as part of Fruits & Veggies—More Matters in 2017 builds upon this growing body of literature. Findings from more than 2,000 Americans demonstrated a correlation between days per week in which fruits and veggies were eaten and reported levels of life satisfaction and happiness. Those who reported eating fruits and veggies every day of the week were significantly more likely to report being happy and satisfied with their life. Those with the highest intakes pointed to several physical, emotional, and social benefits associated with their habitual consumption including pride in their choices, feeling good in their day-to-day activities, alleviation of physical illness, and confidence in their future health.2
With just 1 in 10 adults meeting the recommendations for fruit and veggie consumption, researchers (and dietitians alike) hope this emerging information increases people’s motivation to consume more fruits and veggies.3
So … now is the perfect time to shift your health-related New Year’s resolutions into full-gear and add more fruits and veggies to your diet. Look for creative ways to boost your intake, such as adding puréed beets to pancakes for a pretty pink color.
Heart Beet Pancakes
- Enough of your favorite pancake mix to make approximately six-4”-diameter pancakes (preferably whole wheat)
- 2 medium beets, cooked
- Purée beets in a food processor or high-powered blender.
- Add puréed beets to pancake batter and stir to incorporate. Prepare pancakes on heated skillet, pouring batter into a heart shape or using a heart-shaped mold. Serve with your favorite toppings.
Emily Parent, RD, LD
Supermarket Registered Dietitian
1University of Warwick. 7 a day for happiness and mental health. Retrieved December 29, 2017, from https://warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressreleases/7-a-day_for_happiness/.
2Produce for Better Health Foundation. Novel Approaches to Measuring and Promoting Fruit and Vegetable Consumption, 2017. (To be published.)
3Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only 1 in 10 Adults Get Enough Fruits or Vegetables. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). November 2017. Retrieved December 29, 2017, from https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/p1116-fruit-vegetable-consumption.html.