Raw fruit and vegetable intake good for mental health, says study

Raw fruit and vegetable intake good for mental health, says study

A healthy and nutritious diet, including raw fruits and vegetables, is known to prevent various physical ailments, but one may wonder whether it can also benefit one’s mental health. Now, a recent research by the Department of Psychology in University of Otago, New Zealand, puts all such doubts to rest and says that consuming raw fruits and vegetables can help improve one’s mental health and provide relief from the symptoms of an existing mental illness.

The research also proved that increasing one’s consumption of raw fruits and vegetables can improve psychological well-being within two weeks. Though a higher intake of fruits and vegetables is associated with lower incidence of mental health disorders, research has also shown increased fruit and vegetable intake (FVI) to improve depressive symptoms among clinically depressed people. Although the relationship between FVI and mental health is clear, the effects of the form of consumption (raw, cooked or canned) was not much researched. The new study established that the method of food processing plays an equally important role in affecting one’s mental health.

According to the researchers, the higher the amount of raw fruit and veggies in one’s diet, the lower the risk of being depressed. As compared to a diet of processed fruits and vegetables that only elevates mood, raw fruits and vegetables is associated with positive mood, flourishing (leading a purposeful and meaningful life) and life satisfaction.

Micronutrients in raw foods enhance mental and physical health

For the study, 422 adults (aged 18-25 years) living in the U.S. and New Zealand completed an online survey that examined their consumption of fruits and vegetables, the specific foods they ate more frequently along with their food preparation method (raw, processed or canned). The research team specifically focused on young adults who usually consume low diet of fruits and veggies, and have a higher risk of being afflicted with mental disorders. All the participants were screened for the presence of mental illnesses like anxiety and depression. In addition, lifestyle factors, such as the rate of physical activity, socio-economic status, BMI and any pre-existing substance abuse problem, were also taken into account.

The researchers discovered that when it came to better mental health outcomes, consumption of raw fruits and vegetables was shown to significantly outperform the benefits of processed food items. Some of the foods related to better mental health were citrus fruits, dark leafy vegetables, cucumber, bananas, apples and fresh berries.

The researchers further clarified that the difference could be apparent due to the presence of greater levels of micronutrients in raw fruits and vegetables that are essential for optimum physical and mental health. They observed that “…cooking and canning would most likely lead to a degradation in nutrients, thereby limiting their beneficial impact on mental health.” However, further research into how processing affects a food item’s nutrient levels needs to be done.

Mental health needs to be prioritized

Just as we look after our physical health needs, we need to take care of our psychological well-being as well. A healthy mind means healthy body and overall happiness and satisfaction.

If you know someone who is suffering from any kind of mental health ailment, contact the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline. We have trained specialists who are available 24/7 to listen to your problems and provide guidance in the right direction so that you get the right support. Our representatives at the 247 mental health treatment center can answer all your queries related to mental health and help you find the best rehabilitation centers as per your needs. Call our 247 mental health treatment helpline (855) 653-8178 or chat live with an expert to know more.

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