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An Apple a Day Keeps the Therapist Away

A new study has found that the way we consume fruit and snack can have a significant impact our mental health

Since fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants, fiber and micronutrients that aid in brain functioning, it’s no secret that they can help improve your mental health. But new research in the British Journal of Nutrition offers some interesting insight into how you should consume fruit for your psychological well-being, finding that eating a little bit of it every day matters a lot more than how much you consume in a given week.

“Other studies have found an association between fruit and vegetables and mental health, but few have looked at fruit and vegetables separately — and even fewer evaluate both frequency and quantity of intake,” study author Nicola-Jayne Tuck explained in a press release.

To get more information on this, Tuck and her team surveyed 428 adults in the U.K. about their consumption of fruit, vegetables and sweet and savory snacks. The participants also answered questions that assessed their mental health. Once researchers controlled for variables like exercise, physical health and age, they found that snacks made all the difference. Namely, participants who snacked on nutrient-rich fruits that aid in brain functioning regularly scored lower in measurements for depression and higher for mental well-being, regardless of the overall quantity. 

In contrast, those who snacked on “nutrient-poor” savory foods like chips were more likely to experience “mental lapses” such as forgetting where they’d put their keys. Likewise, these unhealthy snackers experienced more symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression, and lower well-being scores. “Our findings could suggest that frequently snacking on nutrient-poor savory foods may increase everyday mental lapses, which in turn reduces psychological health,” Tuck concluded. “Overall, it’s definitely worth trying to get into the habit of reaching for the fruit bowl.”

So the only lie Big Fruit is peddling about the whole an-apple-a-day-keeps-the-doctor-away thing is that you shouldn’t eat that apple all at once, you should cut it up and graze on it instead.