Let’s get real; there are few sexy reasons to eat more vegetables. While Ancient Greeks used carrots as an aphrodisiac, the 21st century PR campaign for best aphrodisiac dropped carrots in exchange for chocolate. Many studies refer to veggies as a way to meet the daily fiber recommendations or lower your cancer risk, which isn’t very exciting. But there’s hope. New research shows that there is also a social, personal, and familial plus to eating vegetables. Besides the health benefits, here are more reasons why you want to turn up the vegetables in your meals.
You may have heard some people say they feel better after a “Daniel” fast, starting a workout regimen or losing a certain amount of weight, but you can get that feel-good vibe one meal at a time. A new study in Social Indicators Research of over 80,000 subjects found a dose-response relationship between fruit and vegetable consumption with happiness and mental health. The perfect dose of happy-fruit-and-vegetable-potion comes in at 7-servings a day. Studies have frequently related obesity with depression, and dietary patterns with mental health, but this study takes a lighter take on how to improve your well-being. A report by WebMD quotes Andrea Giancoli, RD, whose take on clients who don’t like vegetables may be easy to convert with a little effort, “Even those who say they hate fruits and vegetables can find ones they like, usually it’s just certain ones they don’t like. Once we go through [the list] we find ones they do like.”
Be Seen in a More Positive Light
This next study was laughable at first glance, but the fact that it came from one of the more prominent nutrition researchers in the field, Brian Wansink, PhD, Director of Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab, made me take a second look. The headline for the study press release reads, “Adding Vegetables Enhances both Main Dish Expectations and Perception of the Cook.” My first thought was, ‘no way do people think I’m a better cook because I serve vegetables,’ but a survey of 500 American mothers says differently. According to the release, “The survey asked participants to evaluate meals served either with or without vegetables as well as a cook who did or did not include a vegetable with a dinner time meal.” Results showed those meals served with vegetables were more desirable and that positive descriptors of the cook, such as “capable,” “thoughtful,” and “attentive” were higher for those who added vegetables. So you know, the study was partially sponsored by Pinnacle Foods, who specializes in frozen vegetables under their Birds Eye brand.
Making the Slow and Steady Switch
Now that you’ve got being happier, improving your social status, and maybe even a better sex life, to gain from eating more vegetables, the question is how do you realistically make the switch. It’s just as you would any lifestyle change that’s made to stick: slow and steady. A new report by the Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) outlines approaches to increasing fruit and vegetable intake in Behavioral Economics and the Psychology of Fruit and Vegetable Consumption. While the guide was intended for food marketers, its contents are relevant to those of us who know all too well the power of food marketers to sale a dollar pre-packaged snack-food dream.