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More Frequent Fruit Consumption Promotes Better Mental Health


More Frequent Fruit Consumption May Keep Depression at Bay


We have always heard it, "you are what you eat," that it has become so cliché. But if the truth can be cliché, would it be wrong to emphasize it if doing so can promote a higher quality of life?

Well, it seems this is also true in the case of depression. New research suggests that people who eat fruits more frequently are more likely to report better mental health and less likely to report symptoms of depression. This is more or less like saying, "An apple a day keeps the psychiatrist at bay!"

The research was conducted at the College of Health and Life Sciences, Aston University.


What We Learned from the Research

The research studied 428 adults randomly selected across the UK. The aim was to find how consuming fruit, vegetables, and sweet and savory snacks affects mental health.

One notable discovery from the research is that frequency matters. How often people eat fruit is more important to their mental health than how much fruit they consume in a week. In other words, eating one fruit a day may be more beneficial than eating seven fruits all in one day. 

Aside from that, the researchers also found that people who consume savory low-nutrient snacks are more likely to report high anxiety levels. This is basically emphasizing what we've always known: snacks are downright unhealthy.

Finally, there was no significant link between vegetable consumption and mental health. That's simply telling the greens to sit this one out.


Mental Lapses and Food Consumption

In the study, People who snacked on low-nutrient savory foods like crisps were more likely to experience everyday memory lapses. By memory or mental lapses, we mean subjective cognitive failures that occur now and then, like forgetting where you kept your pen. This same group of people also reported lower mental well-being with higher symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression.

The researchers found no relationship between such memory lapses and fruits, vegetables, and sweet snacks. So apparently, memory lapse is significantly induced by nutrient-deficient savory snacks/foods.


Note: savory food is not sweet but rather full-flavored and perhaps spicy.


Key Takeaway

As lead author Nicola-Jayne Tuck affirmed, many studies before now have looked into how fruits and vegetables benefit mental health. However, they most times do not look at fruits separately from vegetables. This latest study has clarified that fruits are indeed the champions here.

But if fruits and vegetables are both rich in antioxidants and essential nutrients influencing brain function, why aren't vegetables as beneficial? Well, it is possible that these nutrients are lost during cooking. So, since you eat fruits raw, you get everything 100%.

Furthermore, how often you eat fruits is more important to your mental health than how much you eat.

Although this study does not examine the biological processes involved, the findings will encourage fruit snacking more frequently. And most importantly, consumption of low-nutrient savory foods will be discouraged as they can increase everyday mental lapses, which reduce psychological health.

Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Hope Mental Health, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.  Ms. Woodland with her background in nursing, prefers a holistic and integrative approach to mental health care that addresses the mind and body together. While Ms. Woodland provides medication management services in all her patients, she believes in long-lasting solutions that include a number of psychotherapies, namely cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure and response prevention therapy, attention to lifestyle, evidenced based alternative psychiatric care and spirituality. If you’d like to gain control over your mental health issues, call Hope Mental Health at 208-918-0958, or use the online scheduling tool to set up an initial consultation.

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