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Fruits and Veggies for Kids’ Mental Health

Five or more a day help is linked to better mental health scores.

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Kids' mental health improved with veggies and fruits

There seems to be more stress and anxiety in children now, and this is leading to higher-than-desirable rates of mental health disorders that can impact learning and persist into adulthood. Knowing this, encouraging them to eat more berries and carrots could help kids’ mental health.

Using surveys from more than 50 schools in the United Kingdom involving nearly 9,000 students, research published in BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health shows that higher fruit and vegetable intake is strongly linked to better mental health scores, particularly in secondary school-children in grades 9–12. Each extra serving was shown to improve kids’ mental health wellbeing, but eating five or more vegetable and fruit portions daily was particularly beneficial.

According to a previous study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 60% of children don’t eat enough fruit and 93% don’t eat enough vegetables, suggesting a need for better strategies to encourage younger generations to eat more produce for a healthier mindset.

See also: Your Brain on Food

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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