Seven-a-day can make you happy

October 24, 2012

According to a new UK report happiness and mental health are highest among people who eat seven portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

In the survey, the eating habits of 80,000 people as well as measures of their well-being (life satisfaction, mental well-being, mental disorders, self-reported health, happiness, nervousness, and feeling low) were determined by questionnaires (1). The data analysis showed that mental well-being appeared to rise with
the number of daily portions of fruit and vegetables consumed. Well-being was highest at seven portions (approximately 560 grams) a day. The study did not distinguish among different kinds of fruits and vege-tables.

The researchers commented that much remains to be learned about cause-and-effect relationships between diet and wellbeing and about the possible mechanisms at work. They added that randomized controlled trials should now be considered.

Epidemiological studies have shown that a high intake of fruit and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of chronic diseases; particularly, cardiovascular disease (2,3), but also type 2 diabetes (4), and certain can-cers i.e. of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, stomach and lungs (5). Thus, most Western govern-ments currently recommend the intake of 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day to improve cardiovas-cular health and reduce the risk of cancer. The WHO recommends eating more than 400 grams of fruit and vegetables per day, not counting potatoes and other starchy tubers (6). In spite of this, national surveys have shown that the majority of Western populations do not follow this recommendation (7). In Britain, for example, a quarter of the population eats just one portion or no portions of fruit and vegetables per day. Only a tenth of the British population currently consume seven or more daily portions.


  1. Blanchflower D. G. et al. Is Psychological Well-being Linked to the Consumption of Fruit and Vegetables? University of Warwick, UK. October 2012.
  2. Mirmiran P. et al. Fruit and vegetable consumption and risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Metabolism. 2009; 58(4):460–468.
  3. Hung H. C. et al. Fruit and vegetable intake and risk of major chronic disease. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 2004; 96(21):1577–1584.
  4. Harding A. H. et al. Plasma vitamin C level, fruit and vegetable consumption, and the risk of new-onset type 2 diabetes mellitus: the European prospective investigation of cancer – Norfolk prospective study. Archives of Internal Medicine. 2008; 168(14):1493–1499.
  5. World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) Panel. Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective. World Cancer Research Fund: Washington, DC, 2007.
  6. World Health Organization. WHO European Action Plan for Food and Nutrition 2007-2012. WHO: Copenhagen, Denmark, 2008.
  7. Elmadfa I. et al. European Nutrition and Health Report 2009. Forum Nutrition. 2009; 62:1–405.