Eating 3 servings of fruit a day improves mental health, study suggests

A study by researchers at the University of Aston, UK, claims that eating fruit regularly helps prevent depression. On the other hand, unruly eating, full of nutrient-poor snacks, is bad for mental health.

During the work, the researchers also discovered the frequency of consumption is more important than the total amount of fruit eaten throughout the week.

“Both fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants, fiber and essential micronutrients that promote optimal brain function, but these nutrients can be lost during cooking. Therefore, it is better to eat raw fruits, this can have more influence on our psychological health”, explained, in a statement from the University of Aston, researcher Nicola-Jayne, one of the main authors of the study.

More than two servings a day

The researchers interviewed 428 adults, with a mean age of 40 years, from the United Kingdom. They analyzed the relationship between consumption of fruits, vegetables, sweet and savory snacks and psychological health.

According to the research, participants ate, on average, two servings of fruit a day. Those who ate more than two servings reported fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety and had higher levels of well-being.

In contrast, those who ate from three times a week with salty snacks and with few nutrients, showed a worsening in mental health. Levels of anxiety, depression and stress were higher among them.

The researchers, however, did not find a very strong relationship between vegetable consumption and an improvement in psychological health scores. However, Nicola-Jayne says that previous studies have already proven this association.

Research on eating habits and mental health is observational – it does not establish a cause and effect relationship, but rather an important association, which can be explored in further work.

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