Raw Veggies May Be The Key To Good Mental Health

When it comes to physical health, eating your vegetables is a no-brainer: We know vegetables make us healthier humans thanks to their nutrient-dense nature. But can snacking on a salad also help your mental health? A new study suggests that eating enough raw vegetables and fruit might be one of the three pillars of health that generally leads to a greater sense of well-being in young adults. 

Researchers surveyed 1100 young adults in the US and New Zealand and found that those with the best sense of well-being and mental health were those who were getting high quality sleep, exercising regularly, and eating raw fruits and vegetables often (via Science Daily)

"Sleep, physical activity, and a healthy diet can be thought of as three pillars of health, which could contribute to promoting optimal well-being among young adults, a population where the prevalence of mental disorders is high and well-being is suboptimal," said lead author of the study Shay-Ruby Wickham (via University of Otago).

How much do I need to eat?

Those who ate an average of 4.8 servings of raw fruit and vegetables per day had the greatest sense of well-being. In contrast, those who ate less than two servings reported lower feelings of well-being. Getting five servings of vegetables and fruits daily isn't too difficult: A morning smoothie with spinach and berries, a big salad for lunch, an apple and some carrot sticks with hummus for a snack, and some fresh salsa with dinner can all be delicious, easy ways to add raw vegetables and fruits to your diet. One serving is about a loose cup of greens, a medium-sized carrot, a small apple, or a medium tomato (via Eat for Health).

Also interesting was the study's findings around sleep: Rather than finding a correlation between quantity of sleep (the number of hours a person sleeps each night), sleep quality — how deeply someone sleeps — was a better predictor of mental health. So even if you're spending the National Sleep Foundation-recommended seven to nine hours in bed most nights, if you're tossing and turning and struggling to stay asleep, you're not getting as much of a boost from your sleep as you might think.