Fruits and vegetables improve your mental well-being

You need healthy food for your body, but you also need healthy food for your mind. Scientists from the universities of York and Leeds analysed data from more than 40,000 people in the UK and found that consuming more fruit and vegetables can improve your mental well-being. Interestingly, while eating better is good for you in the long run, it can improve your mental well-being quite quickly.

Eating just one extra portion of fruits and vegetables a day has a significant impact on person’s mental well-being. Image credit: Jon Sullivan via Wikimedia

Scientists followed participants for quite some time, monitoring their dietary habits as well as their mental well-being. Researchers also paid attention to such factors as age, education, income, marital status, employment status, lifestyle and health. Then it was just a matter of putting the numbers together to reveal the overall picture. It turns out that it is possible to link a higher consumption of fruit and vegetables to people’s mental well-being. But how much green food you’re supposed to eat to feel the effects?

Well, scientists have a very specific answer – just one extra portion of fruits and vegetables a day already brings tremendous benefits, equivalent to around eight extra days of walking a month. Dr Neel Ocean, one of the authors of the study, said: “While further work is needed to demonstrate cause and effect, the results are clear: people who do eat more fruit and vegetables report a higher level of mental well-being and life satisfaction than those who eat less”. UK’s scientists are not the first ones to reveal this correlation – researchers in Australia and New Zealand already wrote about the relationship between food and mental well-being, but on a much smaller scale.

Psychological benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables are pretty hard to dispute at this point. And it sort of makes sense – fruits make us happy. They taste great, they are refreshing and they are healthy. Living in a natural setting we would be eating much more fruit than we currently do. But what practical implications such studies have? Scientists say that doctors should be aware of these effects. Seeing poor condition of mental well-being, they should encourage the patient to eat more fruits and vegetables. People themselves should be more concerned with including these natural products to their daily diet – they will be happier this way.

Interestingly, scientists don’t know for sure why fruits and vegetables have this effect. But we need them anyway. They provide us vitamins, fibre and some sugar. It is a good snack, which will keep your waist lean and your smile – wide.

Source: University of York

 


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