Summary: People who regularly eat fruit are less likely to report depressive symptoms and more likely to report positive well-being. People who partake in low-nutrient foods like chips are more likely to report symptoms of depression.

Source: Aston University

People who frequently eat fruit are more likely to report more positive mental well-being and less likely to report symptoms of depression than those who don’t, according to new research from the College of Health and Life Sciences, Aston University.

The researchers’ findings show that how often we eat fruit is more important to our psychological health than the total amount we consume in a week.

The team also found that people who ate sugary foods like chips and that were low in nutrients were more likely to report high levels of stress.

Published in British Journal of NutritionThe study surveyed 428 adults from across England and looked at the relationship between fruit, vegetable, sweet and savory snacking and their psychological health.

After taking into account demographics and lifestyle factors such as age, general health and physical activity, the study found that nutrient-dense fruits and nutrient-poor desserts appeared to be associated with psychological health. They also found no direct link between eating vegetables and psychological health.

According to the survey, the more often people ate fruit, the lower they scored for depression and the higher they scored for mental well-being, independent of overall fruit intake.

People who regularly eat nutrient-poor sweets (like chips) report “daily mental retardation” (known as cognitive impairments) and lower mental well-being. Higher numbers of interruptions were associated with lower reported anxiety, stress, and depression symptoms and lower psychological well-being scores.

In contrast, there was no association between these daily memory impairments and fruit and vegetable intake or sweet snacks, suggesting a unique relationship between these nutrient-poor sweets, daily cognitive impairments, and psychological health.

This shows a woman eating an apple
The researchers’ findings show that how often we eat fruit is more important to our psychological health than the total amount we consume in a week. The image is in the public domain.

Some of these frustrating little everyday mental lapses include forgetting where things are placed, forgetting the purpose of entering certain rooms, and not being able to name acquaintances whose names are on the “tip of the tongue.”

Lead author, Ph.D. Student Nicola-Jane Tuck commented: “Very little is known about how diet affects mental health and well-being, and although we do not directly examine causality here, our findings suggest that snacking on unhealthy sweet foods may increase daily. Mental retardation, which in turn reduces psychological health.

“Other studies have found a link between fruits and vegetables and mental health, but few have looked at fruits and vegetables separately—and even fewer have assessed the frequency and amount of the drug.”

“Both fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants, fiber and essential micronutrients that help improve brain function, but these nutrients can be lost during cooking. As we are more likely to eat fruit raw, this may explain its effects on our psychological health.”

“Changing what we eat can be a simple and easy way to improve our mental well-being. Conversely, the upcoming October ban on processed snack foods at checkouts could improve not only the nation’s physical health, but also its mental health.

“Overall, it’s definitely worth trying to get into the habit of reaching for the fruit plate.”

So depression and nutrition research news

Author: Press office
Source: Aston University
Contact: Press Office – Aston University
Image: The image is in the public domain.

Preliminary study: Open Access.
Frequency of consumption of fruit and sweet snacks predicts psychological health; Selective mediation through cognitive failures” by Nicola-Jayne Tuck et al. British Journal of Nutrition

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This shows the brain


Frequency of consumption of fruit and sweet snacks predicts psychological health; Selective mediation through cognitive failures

Despite growing interest in the relationship between diet and psychological health, there is a paucity of empirical studies examining the precise relationships between nutrient-dense foods (such as fruits and vegetables). No. Nutrient-poor foods (such as energy-dense sweets and sugary foods) and psychological health.

Similarly, the psychological processes that support the relationship between nutrition and psychological health are unclear. Therefore, the current study aims to explore the relationship between food consumption and psychological health, using cognitive processes as a theoretical mediator.

This cross-sectional online study of 428 healthy adults (53 % female, mean age = 39·7 years, SD = 13·0), included several validated questionnaires measuring participants’ dietary habits and psychological health. A stepwise multiple regression showed that regular consumption of fruit was associated with a reduction in depressive symptoms (b = -0 · 109, P = 0·025) and more positive psychological well-being (b = 0·187, P <0·001) In contrast, frequent palatable snacks were associated with increased anxiety (for = 0·127, P = 0·005).

In addition, mediation analyzes showed that frequent consumption of sweet foods was associated with anxiety, depression, stress, and psychological well-being, increasing the risk of cognitive decline (p.s <0·001).

These results provide new insights into the independent associations between certain types of food and psychological health and the psychological mechanisms that may mediate these.

More work is now needed to establish causal factors and determine whether these may represent dietary targets that may directly (and indirectly) influence our psychological health.

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