Consumption of Fruits, Vegetables Boosts Mental Health

First Posted: Sep 24, 2014 04:18 AM EDT

Regular consumption of fruits and vegetables not only boosts physical health, but also mental health, according to a new study.

Fruits and vegetables are known to be a key part of a healthy diet. The presence of several vitamins and minerals in fruits and veggies help lower the risk of several diseases including heart diseases, hypertension, etc. It has been stated earlier that eating the recommended 5-a day servings of fruits and vegetables is an important part of any healthy eating plan.

In the latest study, researchers at the University of Warwick's Medical School looked noticed that high and low mental wellbeing were strongly linked with an individual's fruit and vegetable consumption. This study is based on the evaluation of the data retrieved from the Health Survey for England.

Low mental wellbeing is associated with mental illness and mental health problems. On the other hand, high mental wellbeing is not just the absence of symptoms or illness, it's a state in which people feel good and function well. And, this includes optimism, happiness, self-esteem, resilience and good relationships with others. In order to protect people from mental illness, mental wellbeing is very important.

In this study, the researchers looked at 14,000 participants in England, aged 16 years and above. Among the total subjects, 56 percent were female and 44 percent male who were part of the Health Survey for England. This survey gathered data on mental and physical health, health-related behavior, demographics and socio-economic characteristics.

The researchers used the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale to assess the mental wellbeing. Top 15 percent of the participants were grouped under mental wellbeing, the bottom 15 percent under Low and the middle, while 16-84 percent under Middle.

According to co-author Professor Sarah Stewart-Brown, "Mental illness is hugely costly to both the individual and society, and mental wellbeing underpins many physical diseases, unhealthy lifestyles and social inequalities in health. It has become very important that we begin to research the factors that enable people to maintain a sense of wellbeing."

The researchers noticed that 33.5 percent of the subjects with high mental wellbeing consumed five or more portions of fruits and vegetables a day when compared to 6.8 percent of them who ate less than one portion. The researchers claim that higher the consumption of fruits and vegetables, lower was the risk of having low mental wellbeing. Nearly 31.4 percent of the subjects with high mental wellbeing had three-four portions of fruits and vegetables and 28.4 percent of them had just one-two portions.

"Our findings add to the mounting evidence that fruit and vegetable intake could be one such factor and mean that people are likely to be able to enhance their mental wellbeing at the same time as preventing heart disease and cancer," said Professor Sarah Stewart-Brown.

The study is published by BMJ Open.

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