Researchers at the University of Otago in New Zealand have found that consuming raw veggies and fruits like carrots, bananas, apples, and spinach may be more beneficial for your mental health than their cooked, canned, and processed counterparts. The researchers looked at the eating habits of more than 400 young adults from the United States and New Zealand.
The Feel-Good Benefits
Higher intake of raw produce (at least five times per day) predicted lower levels of symptoms relating to mental illness (such as depression) and improved levels of well-being and satisfaction with life. However, after eating cooked, canned and processed produce, the mental health benefits were significantly reduced. Lead author Tamlin Conner, PhD, speculates that the link to disposition could be due to the “higher nutrient quantity and quality in the raw foods – particularly higher consumption of raw fruits and salads.” Those nutrients could be vitamin C or B vitamins, she adds.
Related: Mood-Boosting Meal Plan
Make It Work For You
Other foods associated with improved mental health include grapefruit, lettuce, citrus fruits, berries, cucumber and kiwi. While these types of foods are best eaten raw, keep in mind that some produce, like tomatoes, release their nutrients more effectively when cooked. But generally, you can’t go wrong with the rainbow of raw choices out there.