NUTRITION

Study: Giving Young Adults Fruit and Vegetable Improves Their Psychological Health

February 14, 2017

According to a recent study, providing young adults with fruits and vegetables over a 2-week period was associated with improved psychological well-being.

The study included 171 low fruit and vegetable consuming young adults between 18 to 25 years of age, 115 of whom were female and 56 of whom were male. Participants were randomly assigned to either a control group, where they maintained their normal dietary pattern, a group that received a fruit and vegetable voucher and text messages twice a day reminding them to eat more fruits and vegetables, or a group that received 2 additional servings of fruit and vegetables a day on top of their normal diet.
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Blood samples to measure vitamin C and carotenoids were collected, and depressive symptoms, anxiety, and psychological expectations for the study were assessed using surveys administered before and after the trial period. In addition, negative and positive mood, vitality, flourishing, and flourishing behaviors were assessed between 7 pm to 1 am each day via surveys sent to participants’ smartphones.

Their results showed that only participants who were given fruits and vegetables showed improvements in psychological well-being and increases in vitality, flourishing and motivation throughout the 2-week trial.

However, researchers did not observe any changes in depressive symptoms, anxiety, or mood.

In addition, vitamin C, carotenoids, or psychological expectations did not mediate the benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption noticed in the group given fruits and vegetables.

“We conclude that providing young adults with high-quality [fruits and vegetables], rather than reminding them to eat more [fruits and vegetables] (with a voucher to purchase [fruits and vegetables]), resulted in significant short-term improvements to their psychological well-being. These results provide initial proof-of-concept that giving young adults fresh fruit and vegetables to eat can have psychological benefits even over a brief period of time,” the researchers wrote.

—Melissa Weiss

Reference:

Conner TS, Brookie KL, Carr AC, Mainvil LA, and Vissers MCM. Let them eat fruit! The effect of fruit and vegetable consumption on psychological well-being in young adults: a randomized controlled trial [published online February 3, 2017]. PLOS One. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0171206.