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Eat Your Veggies; They'll Make You Happy

There is little in life that we enjoy more than eating pizza. There is something comforting about a slice of thin crust, covered in cheese and sauce and maybe some parm, should we be feeling adventurous that day. A close second to pizza is macaroni and cheese, which is obvious, considering it is called "comfort food." But according to a study, these foods aren't going to actually make us happier. Fatter? Sure. Happier? No.

If kids could read, they'd likely be upset about this, but it's true: According to Daniel Blanchflower and a team of researchers at Dartmouth University, people who eat their veggies are more likely to be happier than those who don't eat them.

"Humans run on a fuel called food," explains Blanchflower in his paper's — titled "Is Psychological Well-being Linked to the Consumption of Fruit and Vegetables?" — introduction. "Yet economists and other social scientists rarely study what people eat. We provide simple evidence consistent with the existence of a link between the consumption of fruit and vegetables and high well-being. In cross-sectional data, happiness and mental health rise in an approximately dose-response way with the number of daily portions of fruit and vegetables."

To find this correlation, Blachflower and his colleagues examined the eating habits of 80,000 British people. He then cross-referenced the data with how they responded to questions about their overall well-being. What he found was that the respondents' happiness increased on a scale of one to 10 with every serving of vegetables that they consumed. The results were even the same across socio-economic classes.

Given the nature of the results, it naturally begs the question: Does eating veggies really make people happier, or is it just that happier people tend to eat more crappy — uh, sorry — we mean, good foods? Blanchflower, of course, already considered this. "It might be that we just have all these vegetarians that are richer or happier,” Blanchflower told The Washington Post. “There are definitely issues of causality. At the same time, I think what we’ve done here is establish correlation. I don’t think we expected to see the relationship we did."

Fine, we guess that's that. Although one thing we should note is that the respondents in the survey had to consume seven servings or more of veggies to notice a difference. So load up that large pizza with veggies and we'll call it even!

[Pic via Flickr -Martin Cathrae]

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