Fruit and Vegetables for Improved Mental Health

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It has long been known that fruits and vegetables are good for our physical health. Recent research has revealed that increasing fruit and vegetable intake can also increase our mental health. They found that higher consumption of fruits and vegetables can improve mental health and well-being. Further, increased consumption can improve short-term well-being. Additional research revealed that consuming two additional portions of fruits and vegetables per day for two weeks led to improved psychological outcomes. These include increased social-emotional well-being and more energy.

Researchers explain that a majority of people are consuming below the benchmark amount of five portions of fruits and vegetables per day. They found 85% of people consume less than three daily portions of fruit and 60% consume less than three daily portions of vegetables. What’s so important about adding more fruits and vegetables to our diet? It can be a low-cost way to improve both physical and mental health. As fruit and vegetable consumption increases, personal well-being increases.

It has been found that increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables by one portion, on days when at least one portion was consumed, led to a 0.133 unit increase in mental well-being. That's the same increase as eight extra days of walking at least 10 minutes per month! This finding helps to illustrate the effect of eating more fruits and vegetables on mental health and life satisfaction. The Healthy Lifestyle Center can help by providing healthy lifestyle consultations specific to nutrition for increasing your fruit and vegetable intake. Additionally, we can help by providing support for adhering to living a healthier life.

By Matt Lewandowski

Sources: Higher Fruit, Vegetable Consumption Tied to Well-Being. Michael Vlessides,Medscape, February 14, 2019.; Ocean, N., Howley, P., & Ensor, J. (2019).  Lettuce be happy: A longitudinal UIK study on the relationship between fruit and vegetable consumption and well-being.  Social Science & Medicine, 222, 335-345.; Conner, T., Brookie, K., Carr, A., Mainuil, L., & Vissers, M. (2017).  Let them eat fruit! The effect of fruit and vegetable consumption on psychological well-being in young adults: A randomized controlled trial.  PLoS One.