Bring on the broccoli and carrot sticks

After a lifetime of searching, I finally found the secret to happiness … broccoli. Well, maybe broccoli and a little cauliflower. It sounds crazy, but this theory is based on valid scientific research, or as valid as scientific research can be.

Revolutionary “findings” by economists at Dartmouth University and England show that vegetables and fruits can boost your happiness level. I don’t know why economists conducted this study, which seems more appropriate for psychiatrists and fertilizer manufacturers, but they probably figured the economy is so depressing we have to find happiness somewhere besides consumerism and reality TV.

I used to think the secret to happiness was money and sex appeal, not to mention products with a high sugar content, but I was wrong. And while I knew vegetables could add years to your life, I didn’t know they could add life to your years, and lead to nirvana.

Being a student of the constitutionally guaranteed right to the pursuit of happiness, I regularly exercise to generate those pleasure-causing, pain-preventing endorphins. I also meditate and try hard to do unto others as I would have them do unto me, but I never thought you could get high on a plate of cabbage.

Three psychological surveys from the United Kingdom that examined well being and diet, among other things such as work-related stress, anxiety, life satisfaction and the ability to cope, concluded that the more veggies you consume, the happier you’ll be.

One study said that eight portions of vegetables a day had a stronger effect on personal happiness than your employment status did, which means if you hate your job, be sure to have an extra-large Tupperware container of carrot sticks at your work station so that whenever the boss hassles you, you can start munching.

The research paper, which was written for the National Bureau of Economic Research in the U.S., said that seven daily servings of vegetables and fruit produce the highest levels of well-being -— in addition to a lot of gas. Five servings may produce the same results, they also concluded.

The authors seemed a bit perplexed, however, and admitted that other factors may be involved, and they couldn’t quite determine whether vegetables make you happy or whether happy people eat a lot of vegetables.

Part of me believes junk food makes you happy — and hyper — but not necessarily healthier. Since antidepressant use has doubled in the U.S., eating vegetables may offer a better solution, which could also lead to substantial healthcare savings.

Anyway, bring on the vegetables. Pass the string beans and let’s not skimp on the Brussels sprouts.

To be honest, just thinking about carrot sticks makes me cringe, especially the teeny tiny ones that look like suppositories, and whenever I see someone snacking on carrot sticks at their work station, I think, “Poor SOB. His wife won’t even let him have a Snickers.”

Well, I’ve become that poor SOB. Vegetables and fruit and an occasional side order of tofu, and I even have my own engraved Tupperware container. The path to happiness, I’ve discovered, runs right by the salad bar. Anyone care for a grape tomato? Hold the dressing.

Joe Pisani can be reached at