Consumption of Raw Fruits and Vegetables Linked to Better Mental Health

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New study reveals that consumption of raw fruits and vegetables can lead to positive mental outcomes

Researchers from University of Otago have discovered raw fruit and vegetables may be better for your mental health than cooked, canned, and processed fruit and vegetables. The study was published in Frontiers in Psychology journal. Dr Tamlin Conner, Psychology Senior Lecturer and lead author, said public health campaigns have historically focused on aspects of quantity for the consumption of fruit and vegetables (such as 5+ a day).

The study found that for mental health in particular, it may also be important to consider the way in which produce was prepared and consumed. As a part of the study, more than 400 young adults from New Zealand and the U.S. aged 18 to 25 were involved in the survey study. This age group was selected as young adults have the lowest fruit and vegetable consumption of all age groups and are at high risk for mental health disorders. Consumption of raw versus cooked and processed fruits and vegetables were examined in the group, alongside their negative and positive mental health, and lifestyle and demographic variables that could affect the association between fruit and vegetable intake and mental health (such as exercise, sleep, unhealthy diet, chronic health conditions, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and gender).

Researchers recommend regular and adequate consumption of carrots, bananas, apples, dark leafy greens such as spinach, grapefruit, lettuce, citrus fruits, fresh berries, cucumber, and kiwifruit for better mental health. “Controlling for the covariates, raw fruit and vegetable consumption predicted lower levels of mental illness symptomology, such as depression, and improved levels of psychological well-being including positive mood, life satisfaction and flourishing. These mental health benefits were significantly reduced for cooked, canned, and processed fruits and vegetables,” said Dr Conner.

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