The team also found that people who eat savory snacks such as crisps, which are low in nutrients, are more likely to report greater anxiety levels.
Nutrient-rich Fruit or Nutrient-poor Savory Snacks
Published in the British Journal of Nutrition, the study surveyed 428 adults from across the UK and looked at the relationship between their consumption of fruit, vegetables, sweet and savoury food snacks, and their psychological health.
After considering demographic and lifestyle factors such as age, general health, and exercise, the research found that both nutrient-rich fruit and nutrient-poor savory snacks appeared to be linked to psychological health. They also found that there was no direct association between eating vegetables and psychological health.
Based on the survey, the more often people ate fruit, the lower they scored for depression and the higher for mental well-being, independent of the overall quantity of fruit intake.
People who frequently snacked on nutrient-poor savory foods (such as crisps) were more likely to experience ‘everyday mental lapses’ (known as subjective cognitive failures) and report lower mental well-being.
A greater number of lapses was associated with higher reported symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression and lower mental well-being scores.
By contrast, there was no link between these everyday memory lapses and fruit and vegetable intake or sweet snacks, suggesting a unique relationship between these nutrient-poor savory snacks, everyday mental lapses, and psychological health.
Examples of these frustrating little everyday mental lapses included forgetting where items had been placed, forgetting the purpose of going into certain rooms, and being unable to retrieve the names of acquaintances whose name was on the ‘tip of the tongue.’
Why Fruits are Good for Mental Health?
Lead author, PhD student Nicola-Jayne Tuck commented: “Very little is known about how diet may affect mental health and well-being, and while we did not directly examine causality here, our findings could suggest that frequently snacking on nutrient-poor savory foods may increase everyday mental lapses, which in turn reduces psychological health.
“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.
“Both fruit and vegetables are rich in antioxidants, fibre 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.
“It is possible that changing what we snack on could be an 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 improve the country’s physical and mental health.
“Overall, it’s worth trying to get into the habit of reaching for the fruit bowl.”
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