Seeking the feel-good factor? Go natural. That’s the take-away from a University of Otago study that revealed that eating raw fruit and vegetables may be better for your mental health than cooked, canned and processed fruit and vegetables.
It’s possible that cooking and processing fruit and vegetables diminishes nutrients optional for mood and brain health.
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 young adults typically have the lowest fruit and vegetable consumption of all age groups and are at high risk for mental health disorders.
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 link between fruit and vegetable intake and mental health (e.g., exercise, sleep, unhealthy diet, chronic health conditions, socioeconomic status, ethnicity and gender).
After controlling for these factors that are associated with mental health, raw fruit and vegetable consumption predicted lower levels of depression and improved levels of psychological wellbeing including positive mood, life satisfaction and flourishing. These mental health benefits were significantly reduced for cooked, canned, and processed fruits and vegetables.
The top 10 raw foods related to better mental health were: Carrots, bananas, apples, dark leafy greens such as spinach, grapefruit, lettuce, citrus fruits, fresh berries, cucumber and kiwifruit.
Source: Frontiers in Psychology, April 10, 2018.
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