Just how many times a day is enough? Enough for what you may ask - well, enough for you to enjoy optimum health and well-being. Five servings of fruits and vegetables has tended to be the magic number following popular advice from nutrition experts, public health authorities and the World Health Organisation. Food producers quickly caught on to the idea's marketing power: get two of your five-a-day in this smoothie, for example.
Advancing on the five-a-day mantra for optimum health, a fascinating study by two economists and a public health researcher from the University of Warwick tracked the eating habits of 80,000 people in Britain to understand whether psychological well-being is linked to the consumption of fruits and vegetables - essentially, do fruits and vegetables affect how happy you feel?
This type of research is rarely undertaken by social scientists as "diet has traditionally been ignored by well-being researchers", says co-author Professor Sarah Stewart-Brown, who admits that their findings came as quite a surprise.
The study found that happiness and mental health rose "in an approximately dose-response way with the number of daily portions of fruits and vegetables". The correlation was so strong that even when adjusted for other demographic, economic and social variables, the pattern was still significant.
Well-being was found to peak at seven portions of fruits and vegetables per day - with a single serving being equal to 80 grams - and the study did not differentiate between types of fruits and vegetables. So it seems that while you may need five to be healthy, seven is the lucky number for you to feel happy.
A great way to increase your fruit and vegetable intake to these lofty heights is to incorporate fresh vegetable juices and fruit smoothies into your daily routine. They provide amazing nutrition in a form that is easily absorbed by your body and are intact with all the necessary enzymes for optimal digestion. If you are juice-savvy, you can get up to three of your seven "happy portions" right there.
Laura Holland is a well-being consultant and nutritional therapist. For more information, visit www.BeUtifulYou.co.uk