New research from Aston University’s College of Health and Life Sciences reveals that individuals who consume fruit on a regular basis are more inclined to report higher levels of positive mental wellbeing and are less likely to experience symptoms of depression compared to those who do not eat fruit. The study emphasizes that the frequency of fruit consumption has a greater impact on psychological health than the total quantity consumed in a typical week.
The study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, examined 428 adults from various regions in the UK to investigate the correlation between their fruit and vegetable consumption, as well as their intake of sweet and savory snacks, with their psychological well-being. After considering factors such as age, general health, and exercise habits, the researchers discovered that both nutrient-rich fruit and nutrient-poor savory snacks exhibited a connection with psychological health. However, there was no direct association between vegetable consumption and psychological well-being.
The results demonstrated that individuals who consumed fruit more frequently had lower depression scores and higher mental well-being scores, irrespective of the overall quantity of fruit intake. On the other hand, those who frequently snacked on nutrient-poor savory foods, like crisps, were more likely to experience “everyday mental lapses” and report lower levels of mental well-being. A higher number of these lapses correlated with increased symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression, as well as lower mental well-being scores.
Everyday mental lapses, which include incidents like forgetting the location of objects, forgetting the purpose of entering specific rooms, and struggling to recall acquaintances’ names, were specifically linked to nutrient-poor savory snacks and psychological health, with no connection observed for fruit, vegetable, or sweet snack consumption.
Lead author Nicola-Jayne Tuck, a PhD student, remarked, “We have limited knowledge about the impact of diet on mental health and well-being, and while we did not establish causality in this study, our findings suggest that frequent consumption of nutrient-poor savory snacks could contribute to everyday mental lapses, which in turn negatively affect psychological health.”
Tuck added, “Previous research has identified a relationship between fruit, vegetables, and mental health, but few studies have examined them separately, and even fewer have evaluated both the frequency and quantity of intake. Fruits and vegetables are both rich in antioxidants, fiber, and essential micronutrients that support optimal brain function. However, the cooking process can diminish these nutrients. As fruits are often consumed raw, this may explain their stronger influence on our psychological well-being.”
She concluded, “Changing our snacking habits could potentially be a simple and effective method to enhance our mental well-being. Additionally, the forthcoming ban on processed snack foods at checkouts, scheduled for October, might not only enhance the physical health of the country but also have positive effects on mental health.”
In summary, incorporating more fruit into our diets is recommended as it has been shown to have a positive impact on mental well-being. Conversely, reducing the consumption of nutrient-poor savory snacks may help minimize everyday mental lapses and enhance psychological health.
Source: Science Daily