Eat Raw Fruits And Vegetables For Mental Health
When people make food choices, they are concerned primarily about physical health and appearance. Our diet, however is not only determined by physiological or nutritional needs. But not many people are aware that foods play an important part on our mental health too. A healthy diet can actually uplift one’s spirits and improve his/her mood.
It is well known fact that eating fruits and vegetables is good for our physical health. Dieticians and nutritionists always recommend mandatory consumption of fruits and vegetables every day. Packed with several nutrients, they help in boosting our immunity, and reduce our susceptibility to several kinds of ailments.
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Now researchers have also found powerful empirical links between fruits and vegetables and improved mental wellbeing. A recent paper by Dr. Redzo Mujcic, of University of Warwick, published in ‘Social Science & Medicine’ in 2019, brings out the positive link between consumption of fruits and vegetables with the mental health of an individual. The research suggests that those who consumed raw fruits and vegetables, were found to have fewer symptoms of mental illness compared to those who ate more canned, cooked, and processed foods. The result also revealed that the former have an uplifted mood, experiencing satisfaction and positivity.
Speaking on how increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables in your diet can lower the risk of clinical depression, Dr Mujcic said, "This is an interesting finding and makes the case for an empirical link between fruit and vegetables and improved mental wellbeing more powerful."
“We found being made unemployed had a very bad and significant effect on people's mental health, greatly increasing the risk of depression and anxiety. But eating seven or eight portions of fruit and vegetables a day can reduce that by half. ” he added.
Researchers also list out 10 raw fruits and vegetables that were found to be associated with better mental health and fewer symptoms of depression. These include carrots, dark leafy greens such as spinach, lettuce, cucumber, apples, bananas, grapefruit, other citrus fruits, fresh berries, and Kiwi fruit. Vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, green beans and broccoli are best when eaten raw. Cooking these vegetables can diminish the Vitamin-C content in them, thus reducing their nutritive value. Other vegetables like celery, cabbage, red onion, tomato, and mushrooms were also associated with lifting mood and making a person feel positive about himself.
Another research by the Department of Psychology, University of Otago, New Zealand in 2015, suggests that more intake of fruits and vegetables leads one to being more curious, creative and engaged. The intake of raw fruits and vegetables provide greater levels of micronutrients than processed fruits and vegetables, and high levels of vitamins C and E, which reduce inflammation, which have a strong link with depression and mental health. Thus, choosing raw fruits and vegetables over processed foods can impact mental health in a positive way.
Diet is potentially the most powerful intervention we have. By helping people shape their diets with raw vegetables and fruits, we can improve their mental health and decrease their risk of psychiatric disorders.
(The author is a PhD Scholar (Dept of Human Development and Family Studies) from Punjab Agricultural University)