All forms matter, but some matter more than others.

That can be the only conclusion from research published by Frontiers in Psychology headlined “Intake of Raw Fruits and Vegetables Is Associated With Better Mental Health Than Intake of Processed Fruits and Vegetables.”

The research authors, Kate Brookie, Georgia Best and Tamlin Conner from the University of Otago in New Zealand said the study investigated the differential associations between intake of raw fruits and vegetables, compared to processed.  Check out a news release about the research here.

The researchers conducted an online survey with 422 young adults ages 18–25 (66.1% female) living in New Zealand and the U.S. that assessed typical consumption of raw vs. cooked/canned/processed fruits and vegetables, negative and positive mental health (depressive symptoms, anxiety, negative mood, positive mood, life satisfaction, and flourishing), and covariates (including socio-economic status, body mass index, sleep, physical activity, smoking, and alcohol use).

What did the authors find?

Controlling for covariates, the study said raw fruit and vegetable intake “predicted reduced depressive symptoms and higher positive mood, life satisfaction, and flourishing.” On the other hand, processed fruit and vegetable intake only predicted higher positive mood. The top 10 raw foods related to better mental health were carrots, bananas, apples, dark leafy greens like spinach, grapefruit, lettuce, citrus fruits, fresh berries, cucumber, and kiwifruit, according to the study.

I love the simplicity of the research, as the conclusion from the abstract reads:

“Raw fruit and vegetable intake, but not processed fruit and vegetable intake, significantly predicted higher mental health outcomes when controlling for the covariates. Applications include recommending the consumption of raw fruits and vegetables to maximize mental health benefits.”

Boom for fresh produce marketers! Drop mic and walk off the stage.