Eating more fruits, vegetables may boost psychological well-being in just 2 weeks

Fruits and vegetables have been established to be key to physical health. New research finds that increasing fruit and vegetable consumption may even improve psychological well-being in as little as 2 weeks.
Study leader Dr. Tamlin Conner, of the Department of Psychology at the University of Otago in New Zealand, and his team found that young adults who were given extra fruits and vegetables each day for 14 days experienced a boost in motivation and vitality. These findings were published in the journal PLOS One.

The United States Department of Agriculture advises that adults should aim to consume around two cups of fruits (equivalent to half a grapefruit or a large orange) and around two to three cups of vegetables(proportionate to one large red pepper or a large, baked sweet potato) daily.

As part of a healthful diet, fruits and vegetables can help reduce the risk of obesitytype 2 diabetesheart diseasestroke, and some types of cancer.

Increased mental health with higher intake of fruits and vegetables

A total of 171 students aged between 18 and 25 were involved in the two-week study, and they were divided into three groups.

One group continued with their normal eating pattern, one group was personally handed two additional servings of fresh fruits and vegetables (including carrots, kiwi fruit, apples, and oranges) each day, while the remaining group was given prepaid produce vouchers and received text reminders to consume more fruits and vegetables.

The team found that participants who personally received extra fruits and vegetables consumed the most of these products over the 2 weeks, at 3.7 servings daily, and it was this group that experienced improvements in psychological well-being.

The other two groups showed no improvements in the test parameters over the 2-week period.

However, no improvements were seen in symptoms of depression and anxiety in any of the groups. “The majority of research linking depression to dietary patterns has been longitudinal, meaning that possible differences in ill-being may be established over a much longer period of time rather than our brief 2-week period,” the authors explained.

The team concludes that:

Providing young adults with high-quality FV [fruits and vegetables], not texting them reminders to eat more FV and giving them a voucher, resulted in improvements to their psychological well-being over a 2-week period.

This is the first study to show that providing high-quality FV to young adults can result in short-term improvements in vitality, flourishing, and motivation. Findings provide initial validation of a causal relationship between FV and well-being, suggesting that large-scale intervention studies are warranted.”

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