Eating more raw fruit and vegetables improves mental health

Researchers from the University of Otago led by psychology senior lecturer Dr. Tamlin Conner found that raw fruits and vegetables are better associated with improved mental health than those that are cooked, canned, and processed. She added that more than consuming a certain number of fruits and vegetables (at least five times a day) which public health campaigns advise for better health, the focus must be on the way these foods are prepared.

  • The researchers surveyed over 400 young adults aged 18 to 25 from New Zealand and the United States. The researchers focused on this age group because it has the lowest fruit and vegetable consumption of all. This group is also known to be more susceptible to mental health problems.
  • The group’s usual intake of raw versus cooked and processed fruits and vegetables were analyzed, along with the negative and positive side of their mental health, and lifestyle and demographic factors that could affect the relationship between fruit and vegetable intake and mental health.
  • Results showed that intake of raw fruits and vegetables led to reduced levels of mental illness like depression, and improved levels of well-being like a positive mood, and satisfaction with life.
  • These mental health benefits were greatly reduced for those who consumed cooked, canned, and processed fruits and vegetables.
  • It is hypothesized that cooked, canned and processed foods have lower health benefits on a person’s emotional well-being because nutrient levels are diminished when fruits and vegetables undergo these processes.
  • Conner says her team’s research can help develop lifestyle approaches such as the implementation of dietary change that can boost mental health.

Mental health is essential for well-being. As this research shows, it doesn’t take much to achieve this. Shifting to food at its most natural state is the key. See for more coverage.

Journal Reference:

Brookie Kate, Best Georgia, Conner Tamlin. Intake of Raw Fruits and Vegetables Is Associated With Better Mental Health Than Intake of Processed Fruits and Vegetables. Frontiers in Psychology. 9 DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00487

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