Fruit and vegetable consumption and mental health
A large body of epidemiological and trial evidence supports the beneficial role of fruit and vegetable (F&V) intake in general wellbeing and prevention of major chronic diseases across several populations and age groups, including positive effects in the prevention and management of common mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety. Epidemiological evidence on the potential drivers of mental health is now emerging. Recent findings from population-based studies suggest that higher intake of F&V may be associated with increased odds of high mental wellbeing and reduced odds of low mental wellbeing. In addition, several antioxidants found in F&V have been shown to be associated with optimism and positive mental wellbeing in middle aged adults. Studies have also reported a dose response relationship of F&V intake with mental health, up to seven portions a day. F&V consumption might also be acting as a proxy for a complex set of highly correlated dietary exposures, including fish and whole grains, which might contribute to the observed associations with mental wellbeing. As most of the epidemiological data is based on cross sectional studies, further prospective studies and randomized clinical trials should be carried out to corroborate the causality of this association.
In terms of recommendations for the application in daily practice, people should strive to:
- meet recommended dietary guidelines (at least 5 portions of F&V, 400g/day);
- fill their plate with fruits and veggies during every snack or meal;
- add more color and variety to diet by trying new types of produce, which will enhance nutritional diversity;
- improve home environment by placing fruits and veggies in prominent places;
- integrate F&V intake within an overall healthy lifestyle.
We are pleased to share with you in this issue of the Global Fruit & Veg Newsletter three articles that highlight the importance of F&V consumption on mental health.