Now, we’re not saying that eating vegetables will make you happy, and we’re not saying that happy people tend to eat a lot of vegetables. But it does appear, from a recent study of 80,000 Brits, that people who eat seven or more servings of produce every day also report higher life satisfaction.
The effect was small — veggie-guzzlers rated themselves 0.27 points higher on a 1-10 scale of personal happiness. If we were talking about the mood benefits of, say, bathing in lye or hitting yourself with a mallet every day, I’d be inclined to wonder how much it matters to be 2.7 percent happier in the long run. But vegetables also taste good, so what the hey. (In fact, maybe that’s why produce-eaters are happier — their food tastes better.)
I’d be inclined to guess that this effect occurs because access to good fresh produce tends to overlap with reasonably comfortable finances. But the researchers say they controlled for income, and they still saw a measurable happiness effect. So maybe lowering your blood pressure with high-potassium veggies, or eating enough fiber to be regular, or getting sufficient vitamins really do make you a happier person. Or maybe people who are already extra-happy are the most likely to say, “Hey, you beautiful green bean, get in my mouth.” Or, you know, any number of things that could produce these results, which would be really hard to test further (as one of the researchers points out, you’d need “a controlled, random experiment where you randomly make people eat carrots”). At any rate, you’ve probably got nothing to lose.