Following a healthy diet is a large part of maintaining good physical health, but a recent study shows that it can also benefit your mental health.
Researchers from Aston University recently found that eating more fruit was associated with greater overall mental well-being and reduced feelings of depression.
"Overall, it's definitely worth trying to get into the habit of reaching for the fruit bowl," said lead author Dr. Nicola-Jayne Tuck.
More fruit leads to better mental health
The researchers surveyed over 400 adults in the U.K. about their psychological health and their diets, including how often they ate fruits, vegetables, and sweet or savory food snacks. After adjusting for factors like age, general health, and exercise habits, they found that participants who ate fruit more often had lower scores for depression and higher scores for mental well-being.
In contrast, participants who ate more nutrient-poor savory foods were more likely to experience "everyday mental lapses" and have lower mental well-being.
"Very little is known about how diet may affect mental health and wellbeing, and while we did not directly examine causality here, our findings could suggest that frequently snacking on nutrient-poor savoury foods may increase everyday mental lapses, which in turn reduces psychological health," said Tuck.
The researchers point out that fruits and vegetables contain many important vitamins and minerals. However, how consumers choose to eat them could make a big difference when it comes to getting mental health benefits.
"Both fruit and vegetables are rich in antioxidants, fibre and essential micronutrients which promote optimal brain function, but these nutrients can be lost during cooking. As we are more likely to eat fruit raw, this could potentially explain its stronger influence on our psychological health," Tuck stated.
The full study has been published in the British Journal of Nutrition.