Snacking On Fruit — An Easy Way To Improve Mental Health

People who often eat fruit are more likely to report greater positive mental health and are less likely to experience symptoms of depression compared to those who do not.

A survey of 428 persons was conducted to examine the association between their consumption of fruits and vegetables, as well as sweet and savoury food snacks, and their psychological well-being. The more frequently persons ate fruit, the lower their depression score and the better their mental well-being score. According to new research from Aston University’s College of Health and Life Sciences, people who eat fruit frequently experience more positive mental well-being and are less likely to express symptoms of depression than those who do not.

Frequency of consuming fruits and mental health link

The findings of the study imply that the frequency with which we consume fruit is more essential to our psychological health than the total amount we consume in a typical week. The researchers also discovered that persons who consume savoury foods like crisps, which are deficient in nutrients, are more likely to report higher levels of anxiety. The study, which was published in the British Journal of Nutrition, examined 428 adults from throughout the UK to examine the association between their consumption of fruit, vegetables, sweet and savoury food snacks, and their psychological well-being. After accounting for demographic and lifestyle factors such as age, general health, and exercise, the study discovered that both nutrient-rich fruit and nutrient-poor savoury snacks tended to be associated with psychological wellness. They also discovered that there was no link between eating veggies and psychological well-being. According to the poll, the more frequently participants ate fruit, the lower their depression score and the better their mental well-being score, regardless of overall fruit intake. People who frequently snacked on nutrient-deficient savoury foods (such as crisps) were more likely to have ‘daily mental lapses’ (also known as subjective cognitive failures) and report lower mental well-being. A higher number of lapses was linked to more worry, tension, and depression symptoms, as well as lower mental health scores.

Frequently snacking on nutrient-poor savoury foods increases everyday mental lapses

By contrast, there was no link between these everyday memory lapses and fruit and vegetable intake or sweet snacks, implying a unique interaction between these nutrient-poor savoury snacks, daily mental lapses, and psychological health. Examples of these frustrating tiny everyday mental failures included forgetting where goods had been placed, forgetting the purpose of walking into certain rooms, and being unable to retrieve names of acquaintances whose name was on the ‘tip of the tongue’. Lead author, PhD student Nicola-Jayne Tuck commented: “Very little is known about how diet may affect mental health and wellbeing, and while we did not directly examine causality here, our findings could suggest that frequently snacking on nutrient-poor savoury foods may increase everyday mental lapses, which in turn reduces psychological health.”

Snacking fruit is an easy way to improve mental well-being

“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 Tuck. Explaining further, Tuck said, “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 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,” said Tuck. “Overall, it’s definitely worth trying to get into the habit of reaching for the fruit bowl,” added Tuck.

Story Source:
Materials provided by Aston University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:
Nicola-Jayne Tuck, Claire V. Farrow, Jason Michael Thomas. Frequency of fruit consumption and savoury snacking predict psychological health; selective mediation via cognitive failures. British Journal of Nutrition, 2022; 1 DOI: 10.1017/S0007114522001660

Page citation:
Aston University. “Could eating fruit more often keep depression at bay?” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 July 2022. <>.

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