Researchers in the College of Health and Life Sciences at Aston University have discovered a link between fruit consumption, savory food consumption, and mental health. The results suggest that people who regularly eat fruit have a lower risk of depression.
The study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, was focused on 428 adults from the United Kingdom. The participants reported their consumption of fruit, vegetables, sweet and savory food snacks, as well as their mental health.
Once they accounted for general health, age, and exercise, the researchers discovered that frequent fruit consumption could lead to less depression and better mental health and well-being.
The experts also discovered that those who frequently consumed savory, nutrient-poor foods, such as potato chips, were more likely to experience mental lapses such as forgetting names or where their keys are. These episodes led to more incidences of stress, depression, and anxiety.
The researchers determined that it’s not the amount of fruit consumed that leads to better mental health, but the frequency. The experts also found no link between memory lapses and fruits, vegetables, or sweet snacks. They believe this indicates there is something unique about nutrient-poor savory snacks that cause mental lapses.
“Other studies have found an association between fruit and vegetables and mental health, but few have looked at fruit and vegetables separately – and even fewer evaluate both frequency and quantity of intake,” said study lead author and PhD student Nicola-Jayne Tuck.
“Both fruit and vegetables are rich in antioxidants, fiber, 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.”
According to Tuck, it is possible that changing what we snack on could be a really simple and easy way to improve our mental well-being.
“Conversely, it is also possible that the forthcoming restriction of processed snack foods at checkouts, due to come in this October, could not only improve the country’s physical health, but mental health too.”
“Overall, it’s definitely worth trying to get into the habit of reaching for the fruit bowl.”