Eating more raw fruit and veg ‘eases depression and mental illness’ – and which are most effective
April 19, 2018 | By Andrea Downey
EATING more raw fruit and vegetables can help ease depression and other mental illness, new research suggests.
And we should be focusing more on the types of fruit and veg we eat rather than the quantity, experts say.
Raw fruit and veg is better for your mental health than cooked, canned and processed fruit and vegetables, according to experts from the University of Otago in New Zealand.
Lead author and psychology PhD student Kate Brookie said: “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.”
This is likely because cooking and processing fruits and vegetables can reduce the amount of nutrients, so when we eat them we aren’t getting the full benefits, according to co-author Dr Tamlin Conner, a senior lecturer in psychology.
More than 400 people aged between 18 and 24 from New Zealand and the US were surveyed for the research, recently published in Frontiers in Psychology.
How much raw, cooked and processed fruit and veg they ate was compared, along with their mental health and lifestyle factors like sleep, exercise, socioeconomic factors and gender.
“Controlling for the covariates, raw fruit and vegetable 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,” Dr Conner said.
“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.”
The best foods to eat to boost your mental health include carrots, bananas, apples, dark leafy greens such as spinach, grapefruit, lettuce, citrus fruits, fresh berries, cucumber, and kiwifruit, according to the research.