Lifting your intake of fruit and vegetables can make a difference to the way you feel in just a couple of weeks, a University of Otago study has found.
A team of five academics, led by Dr Tamlin Conner of the Department of Psychology, investigated the effects of increasing fruit and vegetable consumption on changes in psychological well-being.
Their study involved 171 young adults aged 18-25, split into three groups. Over a fortnight, they either continued eating as normal, or were encouraged by text reminders and pre-paid vouchers to eat more fruit and vegetables, or were personally given two extra daily servings of fresh produce (carrots, kiwifruit, apples and oranges).
Those in the last group reported significant improvements to their psychological well-being, with boosts in vitality and motivation.
However, those reminded by text and given $10 vouchers did not show a similar improvement and, when surveyed, were found more likely to have eaten cooked vegetables in casseroles or mixed in with other meals.
The group given fresh fruit and vegetables mostly ate them uncooked.
The study has just been published in the journal PLOS ONE.
Dr Conner says it was encouraging that increased healthy eating could improve feelings of well-being in just two weeks.
"The message from this study is we should be giving people more fruits and vegetables to eat, not simply reminding people to eat their 5+ a day.
"People in dormitories, children in daycare centres, patients in hospitals, employees in the workplace, could be provided with fresh fruits and vegetables on a regular basis."
Further research would be needed to address whether eating more fresh produce might make differences to people's ill-being, including conditions—such as depression.
These changes might take longer to happen, Dr Conner says.
Explore further: New study suggests many apples a day keep the blues at bay
Tamlin S. Conner et al. Let them eat fruit! The effect of fruit and vegetable consumption on psychological well-being in young adults: A randomized controlled trial, PLOS ONE (2017). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0171206