According to recent research from the College of Health and Life Sciences at Aston University, people who regularly consume fruit are more likely to have higher levels of positive mental well-being. They are also less likely to express depressive symptoms than those who do not.
According to the researchers’ findings, frequency of fruit consumption is more significant to psychological health than total amount consumed over the course of a normal week.
The group also discovered that persons who consume low-nutrient savoury foods like crisps are more likely to experience higher levels of anxiety.
The importance of eating fruit for physical health
The impact of eating fruit on health and wellbeing has been widely documented in recent years. Consuming fruit and vegetables reduces the risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
Fruit is also important for our digestive health, as it contains dietary fibre which helps to keep us regular. In addition, fruit is an important source of vitamins and minerals that are essential for our bodies to function properly.
The importance of eating fruit for mental health
The new research from Aston University adds to the growing body of evidence supporting the benefits of fruit consumption for mental health and wellbeing. The findings suggest that eating fruit may help to protect against mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
The study, which was conducted on 428 adults from all across the UK and was published in the British Journal of Nutrition, examined the connection between the consumption of fruit, vegetables, sweet and savoury food snacks, and psychological wellbeing.
The researchers discovered that the consumption of nutrient-rich fruit instead of nutrient-poor savoury snacks led to improved psychological health, after accounting for demographic and lifestyle factors like age, general health, and activity. Interestingly, they discovered no link between eating veggies and psychological wellbeing.
According to the study, regardless of the total amount of fruit consumed, persons who ate fruit more frequently scored lower for depression and better for mental wellness.
The negative impact of salty nutrient-poor snacks on our mental health
People who frequently consumed nutrient-poor savoury snacks (like crisps) were more likely to report reduced mental wellness and experience “daily mental lapses” (also known as subjective cognitive failures).
These annoying tiny everyday mistakes in memory included forgetting where things were placed, forgetting why one was entering specific rooms, and having trouble recalling the names of friends whose names were “tip of the tongue.”
Higher levels of anxiety, tension, and despair were observed, as well as lower mental health scores, when there were more lapses.
Contrarily, there was no correlation between these common memory slip-ups and consumption of fruits, vegetables, or sweet snacks, indicating a special link between these nutrient-poor savoury snacks, common memory slip-ups, and psychological health.
“Very little is known about how diet may affect mental health and wellbeing, and while we did not directly examine causality here, our findings could suggest that frequently snacking on nutrient-poor savory foods may increase everyday mental lapses, which in turn reduces psychological health.
Other studies have found an association between fruit and vegetables and mental health, but few have looked at fruit and vegetables separately – and even fewer evaluate both frequency and quantity of intake.
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.
It is possible that changing what we snack on could be a really simple and easy way to improve our mental wellbeing. Conversely, it is also possible that the forthcoming restriction of processed snack foods at checkouts, due to come in this October, could not only improve the country’s physical health, but mental health too.
Overall, it’s definitely worth trying to get into the habit of reaching for the fruit bowl.”Nicola-Jayne Tuck, Lead author, PhD student
The findings of this research suggest that the consumption of fruit is associated with better mental health and wellbeing, while the consumption of nutrient-poor savoury snacks like crisps may have a negative impact on our psychological health.
If you’re looking to improve your mental health and wellbeing, adding more fruit to your diet is a simple and easy place to start.
For Further Reading
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