Despite the fact that we all know we should eat 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables daily, many of us do not. Well, maybe a new study will change your mind. Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard University, and the University of Wisconsin have found that people who eat more fruits and vegetables tend to be more optimistic - and other studies have found that optimistic people, aside from just having a sunnier outlook on life, tend to live longer and suffer from fewer heart-related diseases.
Cartenoids are compounds commonly found in plants. They are a type of antioxidant, which have been found to promote good health because they can keep molecules in the body from producing free radicals, which can lead to disease and other health concerns.
The study examined data from 982 men and women, aged 25 to 74, enrolled in the Midlife in the United States Study. The participants took a blood test that analyzed the concentration of antioxidants, including cartenoids like beta-carotene found in vegetables such as carrots and spinach and Vitamin E. The participants also needed to fill out a questionnaire that examined their attitudes about life and especially their degree of optimism.
The study found that people who were more optimistic had up to 13 percent more cartenoids than people who were less optimistic, though that link sagged a bit when researchers controlled for demographics and health status. Similarly, they found that people who ate three or greater fruits and vegetables a day were more optimistic than those who ate two or fewer. However, researchers found no link between optimism and Vitamin E, obtained in foods like wheat germ and nut oils.
Because the researchers examined blood concentration and optimism levels only once, they do not know whether eating more fruits and vegetables causes eaters to be more optimistic, or whether optimistic people eat more fruits and vegetables. Previous research has indicated that optimistic people tend to choose healthier lifestyles, like abstaining from smoking.
The study was published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.