Mental well-being is not just the absence of disease or mental illness. It is feeling good and functioning properly. It is being happy, feeling optimism, and having self-esteem. Good mental health also plays a role in our physical, social, and our economic well-being.
In Utah in 2015, only 29.8% of adults reported eating fruit two or more times a day, and only 17.2% reported eating vegetables three times a day. It can be hard to choose healthy foods with busy and stressful schedules. However, new research shows that consuming more fruits and vegetables may be linked with increased mental well-being.
A 2014 study in England published in BMJ Open, looked at the association between behavioral protective factors and mental well-being. Almost 14,000 adults participated in the Healthy Survey for England and were asked about BMI, smoking, drinking habits, and fruit and vegetable intake. To measure mental well-being, they used the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale. They found that fruit and vegetable intake was highly associated with mental well-being in both men and women. People who were in the highest mental well-being category were more likely to report eating higher amounts of fruits and vegetables daily. More specifically, 33.5% of respondents who identified as “mentally well” ate 5+ servings o fruits and vegetables every day, while only 6.8% of that group ate less than one serving.
The paper’s lead author, Dr. Saverio Stanges said “Along with smoking, fruit and vegetable consumption was the health-related behavior most consistently associated with both low and high mental well-being. These novel findings suggest that fruit and vegetable intake may play a potential role as a driver, not just of physical, but also of mental well-being in the general population.”
While more research may be needed to explore fruit and vegetable intake as a factor in good mental health, the physical benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption are well documented.
Here are 10 tips to add more fruits and vegetables to your day:
- Buy vegetables that are easy to prepare, such as prepared salads and baby carrots
- Buy frozen vegetables that can be easily cooked in the microwave
- Buy fruits and vegetables in season
- Serve vegetables with a dip to make them more appealing to children
- Add fruits and vegetables to smoothies
- Place fruits and vegetables in prominent places in your home
- Cut up fruits and vegetables as soon as you buy them, so when you make a meal, you can just pull your prepared produce out of the refrigerator
- Snack and fruits and vegetables that are easy to grab and eat raw: carrots, broccoli, grapes, strawberries, cherries
- Choose vegetables with a variety of color: red, orange, and green
- Make half of your plate at meals times fruits or vegetablesIndividu