We all know that eating a healthy, balanced diet is good for our physcial health – but a new study has found it can help us out mentally, too.
Specifically, eating more fruit was associated with greater overall mental wellbeing and a reduction in depressive symptoms.
The team of researchers from Aston University surveyed more than 400 adults in the UK about their psychological health and their diets, detailing their snacking habits.
Their research helps us better understand the link between food and mental health, which is much less understood than it’s impact on physical health.
They found that people who snacked on fruit, compared to savoury and sweet snacks and vegetables, had lower scores for depression and higher mental wellbeing – and this was after they accounted for their differing ages, general health and how much exercise they do.
The results were published in the British Journal of Nutrition.
While the study can’t prove that eating fruit directly improved their mental wellbeing, lead author Dr. Nicola-Jayne Tuck concluded that, overall, ‘it’s definitely worth trying to get into the habit of reaching for the fruit bowl.’
On the other hand, people who ate more ‘nutrient-poor savory foods’ had worse mental wellbeing.
Nicola concludes that the ‘findings could suggest that frequent snacking on nutrient-poor savoury foods may increase everyday mental lapses, which in turn reduces psychological health.’
So why is reaching for fruit preferable to vegetables? It’s not that vegetables aren’t good for you – they contain lots of vital vitamins and minerals too.
The difference is in how we consume them.
Nicola explains: ‘Both fruit and vegetables are rich in antioxidants, fiber and essential micronutrients which promote optimal brain function, but these nutrients can be lost during cooking.
‘As we are more likely to eat fruit raw, this could potentially explain its stronger influence on our psychological health.’
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