Looking for a way to boost your mental wellbeing? You might just have found it! Eating fruit and vegetables in their raw form – rather than cooking them – could improve your mental health, according to the results of a new study from the University of Otago. Here’s what you need to know.
Here’s the science behind the theory
“Our research has highlighted that the consumption of fruit and vegetables in their ‘unmodified’ state is more strongly associated with better mental health compared to cooked/canned/processed fruit and vegetables,” explains lead author Ph.D. student Kate Brookie.
Along with co-authors Psychology Senior Lecturer Dr. Tamlin Conner and postgraduate honours student Georgia Best, Ms. Brooke conducted this potentially groundbreaking research. A massive four hundred 18 to 25-year-olds from New Zealand and the United States took part in the study which looked at the link between food and wellness.
This age group was chosen specifically as many young adults fail to consume the fresh fruit and vegetables that their bodies need on a daily basis. This worrying dietary trend often means that the group is at risk of developing a wide variety of dangerous physical conditions. However, before now, little research had been done into how this could also affect people’s mental health.
The researchers surveyed each of the participants to find out how much raw fruit and vegetables they ate as well as the state of their mental wellbeing. Some variables – such as gender, the amount of exercise participants undertook, and their socioeconomic status – were taken into consideration when evaluating the results.
“Raw fruit and vegetable consumption predicted lower levels of mental illness, such as depression, and improved levels of psychological well-being including positive mood, life satisfaction and flourishing. These mental health benefits were significantly reduced for cooked, canned, and processed fruits and vegetables,” says Dr. Conner.
“This research is increasingly vital as lifestyle approaches such as dietary change may provide an accessible, safe, and adjuvant approach to improving mental health.”
How to get your fresh vitamin fix
If you’re ready to take your mental wellness to the next level, adding a few raw treats to your food routine could be the answer. So, how can you include more fresh fruit and vegetables in your everyday diet without it getting… boring? It doesn’t have to be hard. Here are a few ideas to help you along the way:
Add fresh fruit to your cereal
There are few things as satisfying in life as tucking into some tasty cereal or oats in the morning. Why not mix things up a little? Add some fresh fruit (chopped bananas or berries work well!) to your bowl for an extra hit of flavour and vitamins.
Drink cold-pressed juices
Unlike most juices, the cold-pressed variety maintains all the vitamins and nutrients of raw fruit and vegetables. Since the produce is not heat-treated, it’s as fresh as the day it was picked. At Shed, we offer a range of nourishing juices to give you that fresh fix you need every time.
Make a raw slaw!
Fancy a cheeky side dish? Raw slaw could be the answer. Shred some root vegetables of your choice and mix them together. Add a zesty dressing and keep the whole thing in the fridge. Nothing could be easier (and… let’s face it… more flavoursome!).