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Fruits and vegetables good for mental wellbeing

plate of vegetables and fruits on a table

Credit: BigStock

It is well established that fruits and vegetables are extremely beneficial for your health. Not having enough fruits and vegetables in your diet can put you at risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke amongst other negative health outcomes. While the role of fruits and vegetables for your physical health is established, some recent research suggests that increased consumption of fruits and vegetables could play a role in enhancing mental wellbeing.

The study also found that increase in wellbeing was dose responsive to both the number of fruits and vegetables consumed and the number of days in a given week an individual consumed fruits or vegetables.

Researchers from the University of Leeds and the University of York build on previous research from Australia and New Zealand by using a much larger sample from the UK. The researchers used longitudinal data from a study in the UK — UK Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS) – also known as ‘Understanding Society’. The UKHLS contains information from approximately 50,000 individuals and data was analysed on three waves collected between 2010 and 2017. Households were recruited in the first wave comprising of members 15 years or over while individuals between 10 and 15 years completed separate youth questionnaires. Households recruited were visited annually and responded either via an online survey or a face-to-face home interview with a trained interviewer. The household response rates for the three waves used in this study (two, five and seven) were 76.2 per cent, 83.8 per cent and 81.5 per cent respectively. Not all questions —such as those relating to food and vegetable consumption — were asked each year but researchers identified three questions on fruit and vegetable consumption with which they could estimate the impact of both quantity and frequency.

After controlling for confounding factors such as diet, health and lifestyle behaviours, the researchers found that there was a positive association between fruits and vegetable consumption and people’s self-reported mental wellbeing. The researchers found that consuming just one extra portion of fruit and vegetable a day contributed to better mental wellbeing which was equivalent to the effect of 8 extra days of walking a month ( for at least 10 minutes at a time). The study also found that an increase in wellbeing was dose responsive to both the number of fruits and vegetables consumed and the number of days in a given week an individual consumed fruits or vegetables.

It is recommended that you consume at least 500 grams of fruit and vegetable each day for essential benefits to your health. This research provides further evidence that consuming more fruits and vegetables is not only good for your physical health but also for your mental health.

Source: Social Science & Medicine


Meena Azzollini

Meena is passionate about holistic wellbeing, alternative healing, health and personal power and uses words to craft engaging feature articles to convey her knowledge and passion. She is a freelance writer and content creator from Adelaide, Australia, who draws inspiration from family, travel and her love for books and reading.

A yoga practitioner and a strong believer in positive thinking, Meena is also a mum to a very active young boy. In her spare time, she loves to read and whip up delicious meals. She also loves the smell of freshly made coffee and can’t ever resist a cheesecake. And she gets tickled pink by anything funny!