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FRIDAY, Oct. 12 (HealthDay News) -- People who eat seven servings of fruit and vegetables a day have the highest levels of happiness and mental health, according to a new study.
In a joint effort with Dartmouth University, researchers at the University of Warwick examined the eating habits of 80,000 people in England and found that mental well-being rose with the number of daily servings of fruits and vegetables, peaking at seven servings a day.
The study, which appears in the journal Social Indicators Research, defined a serving as about 80 grams (2.8 ounces).
"The statistical power of fruit and vegetables was a surprise. Diet has traditionally been ignored by well-being researchers," study co-author Sarah Stewart-Brown, a professor of public health, said in a university news release.
Further research is needed to learn more about the reasons behind the findings, she added.
"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," study co-author Andrew Oswald, a professor in the economics department, said in the news release.
Currently, many Western governments recommend that people eat five servings of fruit and vegetables a day to protect against heart disease and cancer, the release noted.
While the study found an association between fruit and vegetable servings and well-being, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about fruits and vegetables.
SOURCE: University of Warwick, news release, Oct. 11, 2012