Eating more fruits & vegetables improves well-being

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The beneficial effects of fruits and vegetables on physical health are well-recognized. And, several studies have established the advantages of eating a fruit and vegetable-rich diet. A new study published online February 3, 2017 in PLos One (PLoS One. 2017 Feb 3;12(2):e0171206) has further added to the repertoire of health benefits of fruits and vegetables by demonstrating the psychological benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables.

The study participants included 171 young adults aged 18-25 years. They were grouped into two: one group was assigned into a diet-as-usual control condition. They took their normal diets and were sent regular text-reminders to increase their intake of fruits and vegetables and were also given a voucher to purchase fruits and vegetables. In the second group, or a fruit and vegetable intervention condition, the study participants were given two additional daily servings of fresh fruits and vegetables along with their normal diet.

The researchers found that only those young adults who were provided with high-quality fruits and vegetables showed improvements to their psychological well-being with increases in vitality, flourishing and motivation across the study duration of two weeks. The strongest effects were found for motivation. However, no changes in symptoms of depression and anxiety were observed.

The researchers state that “our research suggests that simply educating people about fruits and vegetables and reminding them to eat their recommended daily intake may not be sufficient in ensuring the wider population reaps the psychological benefits of fruits and vegetables consumption. Perhaps greater emphasis needs to be placed on actually providing people with fresh fruits and vegetables (stocking more fruits and vegetables in dorms, cafeterias, workplaces, substituting fruit for dessert, and offering free fruit for people when they shop)”.

Follow these tips for a healthy meal

• Eat less and enjoy your food by eating slowly
• Fill half your plate with fruit and vegetables.
• Avoid oversized portions which can cause weight gain.
• At least half of your grains should be whole grains.
• Limit consumption of food high in trans fats and sugar.
• Choose healthy fats. Use fat–free or low fat milk and/or dairy products.
• Drink plenty of water. Avoid sugary drinks.
• Avoid foods that have high sodium levels such as snacks, processed foods.
• Above all, balance your food choices with your activity level.