Lift your mood with fruit and veges


Good Health (Australia) - - Content -

The typical Western diet is packed with pro­cessed, pre-pre­pared and take­away foods with Aus­tralians spend­ing around $7.16 bil­lion a year on fast foods. But we aren’t as quick to spend money on fresh fruit and veg­eta­bles. The CSIRO Fruit, Veg­eta­bles and Diet Score re­port found one in two adults don’t eat enough fruit and two out of three adults are not eat­ing enough veg­eta­bles. But a grow­ing body of ev­i­dence is find­ing that not only should we be eat­ing more fruits and veg­eta­bles, we should eat them in their nat­u­ral state – raw. From im­prov­ing mood and men­tal health to help­ing with weight loss and re­duc­ing the risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease and type 2 di­a­betes, some stud­ies sug­gest in­clud­ing more raw foods in our diet brings a wealth of phys­i­cal and men­tal health ben­e­fits.


One of the lat­est stud­ies to sup­port raw foods is from the Univer­sity of Otago in New Zealand, where re­searchers found eat­ing raw fruits and veg­eta­bles has a bet­ter ef­fect on men­tal health than cooked, canned or pro­cessed fruits and veg­eta­bles. “A few years ago, I ran a study where we gave peo­ple fresh fruits and veg­eta­bles, such as car­rots, ki­wifruit, ap­ples and oranges. We found peo­ple re­ported in­creases in pos­i­tive mood in just un­der two weeks,” says Dr Tam­lin Con­ner, a se­nior lec­turer in psy­chol­ogy at the Univer­sity of Otago. “We didn’t find that in­crease for peo­ple who ate cooked fruits and veg­eta­bles – peo­ple who ate them raw showed the great­est in­crease in well­be­ing.” Dr Con­ner’s lat­est study ex­plored these find­ings and con­firmed the pos­i­tive re­la­tion­ship be­tween raw fruits and veg­eta­bles and bet­ter men­tal health. “We are not ad­vo­cat­ing a raw diet – we didn’t test that – but the study sug­gests we should aim to eat most of our five serves of veg­eta­bles and two serves of fruit in their raw and un­pro­cessed forms,” she says. “There was a strong as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween raw fruits and veg­eta­bles and lower de­pres­sive symp­toms, higher pos­i­tive mood, greater well­be­ing and higher flour­ish­ing – a feel­ing of pur­pose and that you are thriv­ing, not just sur­viv­ing.”

Dr Con­ner says when scor­ing de­pres­sion, a score of 16 is con­sid­ered the bench­mark. Eat­ing zero serves of raw fruits and veges daily earns a de­pres­sion score of 18 – but eat­ing five serves of raw fruits and veg­eta­bles daily pro­duces a health­ier score of 10. Raw fruits and veg­eta­bles may have more ben­e­fi­cial ef­fects be­cause cook­ing can de­stroy some vi­ta­mins and min­er­als. “This is just one health be­hav­iour – but it is one we can have some con­trol over,” says Dr Con­ner. “Small changes like this can make mean­ing­ful changes in our men­tal health.”


An in­ter­na­tional study pub­lished in The Lancet has found eat­ing raw veg­eta­bles ev­ery day may also help re­duce the risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease. The Prospec­tive Ur­ban Ru­ral Epi­demi­ol­ogy (PURE) study looked at fruit, veg­etable and legume in­takes and found the risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease was low­ered if peo­ple reg­u­larly ate these foods. Three to four serv­ings a day ap­pear to be most ben­e­fi­cial and the re­searchers found raw veg­eta­bles were par­tic­u­larly ben­e­fi­cial. “In plant foods there are cer­tain vi­ta­mins and min­er­als, par­tic­u­larly vitamin C and fo­late, that are heat sen­si­tive and so can be re­duced when cooked at a high tem­per­a­ture,” says Milly Smith, spokesper­son for the Di­eti­tians As­so­ci­a­tion of Aus­tralia. “Eaten ei­ther raw or cooked, veg­eta­bles will give us nu­tri­tional ben­e­fits but boil­ing veg­eta­bles for a long pe­riod will cause vi­ta­mins to leach out into the wa­ter. At the end of the day, when it comes to these plant foods, eat­ing them cooked or raw or a mix of both and get­ting closer to meet­ing our daily re­quire­ments is a great way to go.”


Some stud­ies have also linked eat­ing raw cru­cif­er­ous veg­eta­bles with a lower risk of blad­der can­cer. Re­searchers said a key in­gre­di­ent in these veg­eta­bles – isoth­io­cyanates – are lost dur­ing cook­ing and isoth­io­cyanates are be­lieved to help pro­tect against can­cer. Cru­cif­er­ous veg­eta­bles in­clude broc­coli, cabbage, cau­li­flower, kale, bok choy and Brus­sels sprouts. Eat­ing plenty of whole grains, fruit, veg­eta­bles, nuts and legumes, may also play a pos­i­tive role in help­ing to re­duce the risk of di­a­betes. A US study over 20 years, found peo­ple who have a high in­take of plant foods and lower amounts of an­i­mal foods, had a 34 per cent lower risk of de­vel­op­ing type 2 di­a­betes. Re­search is also show­ing that a diet high in an­tiox­i­dants can help pro­tect joints against the in­flam­ma­tion of os­teoarthri­tis. Vi­ta­mins A, C and E are ef­fec­tive an­tiox­i­dants with vitamin A found in car­rots and kale, vitamin C in abun­dance in cit­rus fruits, red and green pep­pers and berries, and raw nuts and seeds con­tain­ing vitamin E. So each day when you aim to eat the rec­om­mended five serves of veg­eta­bles and two serves of fruit, try and make sure that some of them are eaten in their purest form, says Dr Con­ner. “You have to be mind­ful to fit in the rec­om­mended num­ber of serves each day and even more mind­ful for them to be mostly raw,” she says. “But make a start by hav­ing a salad for lunch or with your din­ner and choos­ing a ba­nana, ap­ple or car­rot as snacks dur­ing the day.”

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