Go raw: Eating uncooked produce is good for the mind

Fruits and vegetables are essential in a balanced diet to maintain weight and avoid chronic disease. We also know that they play a significant role in mental health and wellbeing.  Specifically, those that eat more fruits and vegetables have a lower incidence of mental disorders and tend to be more positive. But does preparation matter?  While all forms of fruits and vegetables are good choices for your diet (think canned, dried, frozen and fresh), previous studies hadn’t looked into how fruits and vegetables were served and if that plays a role in our health.  Research out of The University of Otago, New Zealand took a closer look to see how cooked or processed fruits and vegetables stack up against raw.

As published in Frontiers in Psychology, 422 participants filled out a comprehensive online survey.  The 18-25 year olds provided information about their eating habits, distinguishing between raw and cooked/canned/processed fruits and vegetables as well as their mental/emotional health and overall life satisfaction.  The researchers learned that those who ate raw fruits and vegetables had significantly better mental health than those who ate more of the processed counterparts.

The truth is some water soluble nutrients such as vitamin C and B vitamins are vulnerable to heat while others such as lycopene are actually enhanced with similar cooking methods.  Unfortunately, healthy eating (and cooking) isn’t black and white.  But think of it this way, most vegetables can be eaten raw, so it’s better to err on the side of undercooking them anyway.  They’ll have better color, better crunch and you won’t be tossing valuable nutrients down the drain.  So next time you don’t feel like cooking, you don’t have to!  Sit back, pop open a Dole bagged salad, and take solace in knowing that you’re bolstering your mental health.

This study identified the top 10 raw foods related to better mental health.  Remember to wash well before enjoying! They are as follows:

Carrots                               Bananas
Apples                               Dark leafy greens
Grapefruit                          Lettuce
Citrus fruits                        Berries
Cucumber                         Kiwifruit

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