Eating Fruits and Veggies Linked to Higher Mental Well-Being, Study Finds

By Perry, Susan | MinnPost.com, October 8, 2014 | Go to article overview

Eating Fruits and Veggies Linked to Higher Mental Well-Being, Study Finds


Perry, Susan, MinnPost.com


Eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily is associated with higher mental well-being -- as much as not smoking, according to a recent study by British researchers.

This finding is interesting because positive mental well-being -- which includes such psychological aspects as optimism, happiness, self-esteem, resilience and good relationships with others -- is now generally recognized as an important predictor of overall health and longevity. In addition, past research has linked low mental well- being with mental health problems.

For the current study, researchers at the University of Warwick analyzed data from more than 14,000 participants (aged 16 and older) in the Health Survey for England, an annual survey that British health officials use to evaluate the public's health and to inform their policy decisions. As part of the survey, the participants answered questions about their weight and about such health-related behaviors as smoking, alcohol use and fruit and vegetable consumption.

The survey-takers also answered questions specifically designed to assess their mental well-being. Those who scored in the top 15 percent on this part of the questionnaire were categorized as having "high mental wellbeing," while those in the bottom 15 percent received a "low mental wellbeing" designation.

Study findings

After crunching the data, the researchers found that 33.5 percent of the survey participants with high mental well-being ate five or more selections of fruits and vegetables daily, compared with only 6.8 percent of those with low mental well-being -- an almost fivefold difference.

In addition, 31.4 percent of the participants with high mental well-being ate three to four servings of fruits and veggies daily, while 28.4 percent of those with low mental well-being ate one to two.

The findings were similar for both men and women.

Smoking was the only other behavior examined in this study that was consistently associated with mental well-being. …

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