A new study tested the psychological benefits of a two-week clinical intervention to increase fruit and vegetable consumption in 171 young adults (aged 18–25).
Participants were randomly assigned into
- a diet-as-usual control condition,
- an ecological momentary intervention (EMI) condition involving text message reminders to increase their consumption plus a voucher to purchase fruits and vegetables,
- or a fruit and vegetable intervention (FVI) condition in which participants were given two additional daily servings of fresh fruits and vegetables to consume on top of their normal diet.
Only participants in the last group (FVI) condition showed improvements to their psychological well-being with increases in vitality, flourishing, and motivation relative to the other groups. No changes were found for depressive symptoms, anxiety, or mood.
Giving young adults fresh fruit and vegetables to eat can have psychological benefits even over a brief period of time.
Fruit and vegetable consumption is a focus of research and nutrition education, but there is no universal agreement on the meaning of 'fruits and vegetables'. Foods that require specific instruction include rice, dried beans, potatoes, tomatoes and fruits and vegetables in mixtures and condiments.
Fruit and vegetables are important components of a healthy diet, and their sufficient daily consumption could help prevent major diseases. A recently published WHO/FAO report recommends a minimum of 400g of fruit and vegetables per day (excluding potatoes and other starchy tubers) for the prevention of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity, as well as for the prevention and alleviation of several micronutrient deficiencies.
Fruits and vegetables are universally promoted as healthy. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 recommend you make one-half of your plate fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables include a diverse group of plant foods that vary greatly in content of energy and nutrients. Fruits and vegetables supply dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals to the diet and are sources of phytochemicals (phytonutrients) that function as antioxidants, phytoestrogens, and antiinflammatory agents and through other protective mechanisms.