Raw fruit and vegetables provide better mental health outcomes

April 16, 2018, University of Otago
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Seeking the feel good factor? Go natural. That is the simple message from University of Otago researchers who have discovered raw fruit and vegetables may be better for your mental health than cooked, canned and processed fruit and vegetables.

Dr. Tamlin Conner, Psychology Senior Lecturer and lead author, says have historically focused on aspects of quantity for the consumption of fruit and vegetables (such as 5+ a day).

However, the study, just published in Frontiers in Psychology, found that for mental health in particular, it may also be important to consider the way in which produce was prepared and consumed.

"Our research has highlighted that the consumption of fruit and vegetables in their 'unmodified' state is more strongly associated with better mental health compared to cooked/canned/processed fruit and vegetables," she says.

Dr. Conner believes this could be because the cooking and processing of fruit and vegetables has the potential to diminish nutrient levels.

"This likely limits the delivery of nutrients that are essential for optimal emotional functioning."

For the study, more than 400 young adults from New Zealand and the United States aged 18 to 25 were surveyed. This age group was chosen as typically have the lowest fruit and of all age groups and are at high risk for .

The group's typical consumption of raw versus cooked and processed fruits and vegetables were assessed, 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, , socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and gender).

"Controlling for the covariates, raw fruit and 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.

"This research is increasingly vital as lifestyle approaches such as dietary change may provide an accessible, safe, and adjuvant approach to improving mental health," Dr. Conner says.

The top 10 raw foods related to better were: carrots, bananas, apples, dark leafy greens such as spinach, grapefruit, lettuce, citrus fruits, fresh berries, cucumber, and kiwifruit.

Explore further: Well-being can improve quickly by eating more fruit and vegetables, study finds

More information: Kate L. Brookie et al. Intake of Raw Fruits and Vegetables Is Associated With Better Mental Health Than Intake of Processed Fruits and Vegetables, Frontiers in Psychology (2018). DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00487

Related Stories

Well-being can improve quickly by eating more fruit and vegetables, study finds

February 9, 2017
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.

Yogurt, but not milk, may lower hip fracture risk

December 18, 2017
(HealthDay)—High intake of fermented milk products, like yogurt, in combination with a high intake of fruits and vegetables, is associated with lower hip fracture rates in women, according to a study published online Nov. ...

The study shows implications of access to high-quality fruits and vegetables

March 23, 2018
Researchers at Montana State University in Bozeman have published a study showing how access to high-quality fruits and vegetables—or lack thereof—strongly influences whether healthy foods make it to a person's breakfast, ...

Some veggies each day keeps the stress blues away

March 15, 2017
Published today in the British Medical Journal Open, the longitudinal study of more than 60,000 Australians aged 45 years and above measured participants fruit and vegetable consumption, lifestyle factors and psychological ...

Fruit and veggies pave the road to happiness

October 20, 2014
Fruit and vegetables have been identified as a vital key to mental well-being.

New study suggests many apples a day keep the blues at bay

January 23, 2013
Eating more fruit and vegetables may make young people calmer, happier and more energetic in their daily life, new research from New Zealand's University of Otago suggests.

Recommended for you

Suicide risk in abused teen girls linked to mother-daughter conflict

October 18, 2018
Teenage girls who were maltreated as children are more likely to entertain suicidal thoughts if the relationship with their mother is poor and the degree of conflict between the two of them high.

Study shows how bias can influence people estimating the ages of other people

October 17, 2018
A trio of researchers from the University of New South Wales and Western Sydney University has discovered some of the factors involved when people make errors in estimating the ages of other people. In their paper published ...

Infants are more likely to learn when with a peer

October 16, 2018
Infants are more likely to learn from on-screen instruction when paired with another infant as opposed to viewing the lesson alone, according to a new study.

Researchers use brain cells in a dish to study genetic origins of schizophrenia

October 16, 2018
A study in Biological Psychiatry has established a new analytical method for investigating the complex genetic origins of mental illnesses using brain cells that are grown in a dish from human embryonic stem cells. Researchers ...

Income and wealth affect the mental health of Australians, study shows

October 16, 2018
Australians who have higher incomes and greater wealth are more likely to experience better mental health throughout their lives, new research led by the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre has found.

Study suggests biological basis for depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances in older adults

October 15, 2018
UC San Francisco researchers, in collaboration with the unique Brazilian Biobank for Aging Studies (BBAS) at the University of São Paulo, have shown that the earliest stages of the brain degeneration associated with Alzheimer's ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.