Depression is associated with increased morbidity and mortality, and decreased physical, cognitive and social functioning. Depression is also the leading cause of disability worldwide and is expected to be among the top three causes of global disease burden by 2030. Several studies show that increasing fruit and vegetable intake is associated with better mental health, including lower risk of depression and psychological distress. This benefit was higher in women than men.
As life expectancy continues to rise, improving mental health is important to maintain quality of life of the golden years.
The recommendations for a healthy diet include five serving of fruits and vegetables daily (one medium piece of fresh fruit, or one cup of diced or canned fruit pieces). Adding more fruit and vegetables to one’s diet will add a variety of nutrients that may help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, processes that negatively impact mental health. For example, antioxidants such as vitamins C and E may help reduce oxidative stress while the mineral magnesium has been associated with lower inflammation. Deficiencies in B vitamins, such as folic acid and B 12, are linked to depression. Low levels of these vitamins may also impair the synthesis and metabolism of neurotransmitters that may affect mood.
Take-Home Message: Fruits and vegetables are essential for good health, including mental health. To reduce the odds of stress and depression, remember to include five servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
Fruit and vegetable consumption and psychological distress: cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses based on a large Australian sample. (2017, March 1). https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/7/3/e014201