I’ve recently seen a few references to a study about vegetable consumption and optimism. Full disclosure: I am not an optimist; I’m a realist. As such, there are a few things about this study that bother me:
1. I’m unsure how much this study really tells us about the relationship between vegetable consumption and optimism. The researchers measured blood levels of antioxidants in 982 men and women and compared them to self-reported optimism (as assessed with the revised Life Orientation Test). We all know that self-reports tend to be inaccurate. I also wonder how accurate a marker of fruit and vegetable consumption blood levels of antioxidants is. As the researchers point out, there is no way to determine causality. Thus, eating more fruit and vegetables is not necessarily going to make your disposition any more positive.
Please, don’t think that I’m implying you shouldn’t eat your fruits and vegetables. Nearly all of us could stand to eat more veggies. I suppose if the belief that eating more of these foods is going to improve your outlook on the world then I really shouldn’t complain.
2. What’s so great about being an optimist anyway? Personally, I think that those who are blindly optimistic are delusional.
3. Why are research dollars being wasted on such banal topics? I’d much rather see funding going to research that is going to improve the healthspan of the population.