Research Suggests Eating More Fruit Can Give You a Mental Health Boost

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Though the physical benefits of healthy eating are voluminously documented, there is surprisingly little known about how diet affects your mental wellbeing. Yes, chillies give you an endorphin rush and a sugar high almost invariably ends with a crash – but what of food’s effects on your longer-term mental health? And as you contend with the customary new-year anxieties of returning to work, how do you fuel your positivity?

According to a team of researchers from Birmingham’s Aston University, it’s simpler than
you might think.   They found that while frequently consuming nutrient-poor snacks is associated with reductions in psychological health, those who stave off hunger with ordinary fruit tend to have significantly better mental wellbeing than those who don’t.

A crucial detail of their study, which surveyed the eating habits of 428 adults from across the UK, is that how often you dip into the fruit bowl is more important than the total amount you eat. That means bingeing on a supermarket tub of melon chunks is less effective than, say, swapping your mid-afternoon bag of Monster Munch for an apple. Regularity is key.

Also important is that veg doesn’t seem to have a comparable effect, despite being similarly rich in fibre, antioxidants and micronutrients. The researchers speculate that this is because we tend to cook them, diminishing their nutrient payload, while we eat almost all of our fruit raw.

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