Fruit and vegetables important for physical and mental well-being
Researchers have found that an increased intake of fruits and vegetables not only helps our physical health, but also our mental well-being.
“It’s well-established that eating fruit and vegetables can benefit physical health,” said Dr Neel Ocean, at the University of Leeds.
“Recently, newer studies have suggested that it may also benefit psychological well-being. Our research builds on previous work in Australia and New Zealand by verifying this relationship using a much bigger UK sample.”
A collaboration of researchers at the University of Leeds and the University of York followed individuals over the course of time. The study controlled for other factors, such as age, income, education, marital status, lifestyle, employment status and health, and looked at the consumption of foods such as bread and dairy products.
The research team, including Dr Peter Howley, at the University of Leeds, and Dr Jonathan Ensor, at the University of York, found a positive association between the consumption of fruits and vegetables, and individuals self-reported mental well-being.
Dr Howley said: “There appears to be accumulating evidence for the psychological benefits of fruits and vegetables. Despite this, the data show that the vast majority of people in the UK still consume less than their five-a-day.
“Encouraging better dietary habits may not just be beneficial to physical health in the long run but may also improve mental well-being in the shorter term.”
Dr Ensor added: “This work is part of a broader project between our universities known as “IKnowFood“. As well as investigating consumer behaviour and wellbeing, IKnowFood is exploring how farmers in the UK, and businesses across the global food supply chain, can become more resilient in the face of growing uncertainty in markets, regulation and the natural environment.”
Dr Ocean said: “While further work is needed to demonstrate cause and effect, the results are clear: people who do eat more fruit and vegetables report a higher level of mental well-being and life satisfaction than those who eat less.”