By now most of us know that eating our 5-a-day plays an essential part in maintaining our physical health, but did you know there also mental health benefits of eating plenty of fruit and veg? Research from the University of Warwick examined the effects of a healthy diet on the mental well-being of nearly 14,000 adults. It found that ‘the higher the fruit and veg intake, the lower the chance of low well-being’.
Further research conducted by Irish based fruit delivery company “Fruitful Office”, looked at how the food people eat impacts how they feel and perform at work. Similarly, it found that eating the right food, at the right time of the day, makes a significant difference to how people feel:
So, if you feel like you could do with a mental boost, here are the fruits you should eat to provide the pick me up you need…
Apples are sometimes referred to as a ‘nutritional powerhouse’ because of the wide range of vitamins and nutrients they provide. This includes vitamin C (a powerful anti-oxidant) B-complex vitamins, dietary fibre, phytonutrients and minerals such as calcium and potassium.
In terms of mental health and wellbeing, studies have found that eating apples regularly can help to prevent dementia by reducing the cellular death which is caused by the oxidation and inflammation of neurons.
- Colourful berries
Berries and other dark coloured fruits such as strawberries, blueberries and blackberries are rich in polyphenols, which may help to slow cognitive decline through their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. A 2010 study on rats showed that a diet high in these berries could lead to a ‘reversal of age related deficits in nerve function and behaviour involving learning and memory’. The same polyphenols may also lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by reducing oxidative stress.
Bananas are one of the most widely eaten fruits in the world, and that’s a good thing because not only are they packed with potassium and naturally free of fat, cholesterol and sodium, but they could also play a part in improving your mood.
As well as packing a nutritional punch and coming in their own convenient, all-natural packaging, bananas also contain carbohydrates that aid in the absorption of tryptophan in the brain. They also contain vitamin B6, which helps convert the tryptophan in the brain into the mood-lifting hormone serotonin.
Scientifically speaking, a tomato is a fruit, so we had to include it in our list. It’s also an often overlooked super-food which is absolutely fantastic for us in a number of different ways. Tomatoes are rich in vitamin A and C and folic acid, and also contain an array of nutrients and antioxidants, such as alpha-lipoic acid, lycopene, choline, folic acid, bera-carotene and lutein, all of which help to improve our health in some way.
In terms of our mental health, the folic acid in tomatoes provides the biggest benefit, helping to prevent an excess of homocysteine from forming in the body. This can prevent blood and other valuable nutrients from reaching the brain. It can also inhibit the production of feel-good hormones like serotonin, dopamine and nonrepinephrine. The result is that the humble tomato not only helps to battle depression, but can also improve mood, sleep and appetite.
What fruits do you try to eat on a regular basis and why? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.