Best Way to Eat Veggies for Your Mental Health

It's common knowledge that fruits and vegetables are staples to any healthy diet and lifestyle. These foods can aid in everything from weight loss to boosting mental health. What some may not realize, though, is how the preparation and consumption of fruits and vegetables can affect the benefits associated with them.

STUDY SUGGESTS FOOD PREPARATION AFFECTS BENEFITS

The University of Otago, New Zealand conducted a study to determine if and how fruits and vegetables are eaten have any significance compared to the amount consumed. The study consisted of over 400 participants — both in the U.S. and New Zealand — between the ages of 18 and 25. (This age group was targeted because young adults consume fruits and vegetables the least of any age group and are also highly susceptible to mental health disorders.)

The results — which were published in the Frontiers in Psychology journal online — revealed that eating fruits and vegetables raw, rather than cooked or processed, was linked to higher life satisfaction and positive moods, fewer symptoms of depression, and greater feelings of being engaged and having a sense of purpose.

RAW FRUITS AND VEGETABLES LINKED TO BETTER MENTAL HEALTH

Put simply, the new research suggested that eating raw fruit and vegetables may help enhance mental health, even more so than if the foods were cooked or processed.

The reason for this boils down to what happens to the nutrients during the preparation process.

COOKING AND PROCESSING LIMITS NUTRIENTS

"[Cooking and processing fruit and vegetables] likely limits the delivery of nutrients that are essential for optimal emotional functioning," Dr. Tamlin Conner, lead author of the study, explained. "This research is increasingly vital as lifestyle approaches such as dietary change may provide an accessible, safe, and adjuvant approach to improving mental health."

According to the study, the top 10 raw foods that were linked to improved mental health were: citrus fruits, berries, apples, bananas, carrots, grapefruit, lettuce, spinach and other dark leafy greens, cucumber, and kiwi.

Of course, eating fruits and vegetables in any form is recommended. But for those looking to maximize the benefits of eating healthy, particularly those that improve mental health, it seems raw is the way to go.