A study published in May 2022 shows that adding more fruit to your diet can improve mental health and may help reduce the symptoms of depression.
While it is common knowledge that a healthy diet is good for your body and mind, the research was aimed at determining the correlation between mental health and foods that are nutritive versus foods that are less nutritive.
The abstract of the study states that “while there is growing interest in the link between diet and psychological health, there is a surprising lack of studies investigating the precise associations between nutrient-rich foods (such as fruit and vegetables) v. nutrient-poor foods (such as energy-dense savory and sweet snacks), and psychological health.”
Therefore, researchers analyzed the dietary habits of 428 adults without any health issues, especially their snack preferences. In this way, they reached the conclusion that people who chose fruits as their preferred snack had fewer indicators of depression and a better overall mental condition. On the other hand, people who frequently snacked on savory foods, like chips and foods that are rich in added sugar, displayed scored high points for anxiety.
Furthermore, the study also showed that consuming fruits may have a higher influence on mental health than eating vegetables. Of course, both fruit and vegetables are healthy snack options that are rich in fiber, antioxidants, and micronutrients that are necessary for the well-functioning of our brain. However, the reason for which fruits might be the better option is that we tend to eat them raw, as opposed to vegetables, which we very often consume cooked. And through cooking, some of the essential nutrients found in vegetables are lost.
However, even if the study showed that eating fruits has a positive impact on psychological health, the research team underlined that more investigation is necessary to determine how much diet influences mental health.
Given that dietary intake is associated with psychological health, a more precise understanding of how, and to what extent, our diet affects psychological health could help to inform novel nutritional approaches to enhance it. Future work should look to experimentally test causality and examine the potential options for intervention.