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Crisps and chocolate make you sombre; fruit makes you carefree and energetic

Fruit is not only better for your physical health than crisps and chocolate; it's also better for your mental health. If you treat yourself to chocolate or a packet of crisps every afternoon the psychological damage becomes visible after just ten days. But if you consume a piece of fruit every afternoon you'll experience the positive effects after ten days too.

Psychologists at Cardiff University in England divided 100 psychology students into three groups. The students in all groups ate a snack every afternoon for ten days.

The students in one group ate chocolate [no, not the sort that's bursting with polyphenols, but the type of calorie-laden bar that reduces your life expectancy by a fair amount], the students in the second group ate crisps, and the students in the third group ate bananas, mandarin or apple.

The researchers assessed how the students were feeling before and after the ten-day period of the experiment. The researchers used questionnaires to assess the extent of the participants' emotional distress and fatigue. In addition, the researchers also got the students to score their physical complaints [somatic symptoms]. Finally the researchers measured the amount of anxiety and depression among the participants.

The students who poisoned indulged themselves in chocolate and crisps in the afternoons became more depressed, more fatigued and more emotionally distressed as the experiment progressed.

Tinned fruit is not healthy

The students who ate fruit in the afternoons experienced none of these negative effects. The subjects in the fruit group became less anxious, felt physically better and their cognitive functioning improved.

"The results from the present intervention study support the view that consumption of fruit improves mental health compared to consumption of crisps/chocolate", the researchers wrote.

"Further research is required to determine the extent to which these effects generalize across other types of snack. Indeed, even within the category of fruit there may be variation depending on the micronutrient composition of the product."

"We found no evidence to suggest a benefit on mortality from consumption of tinned fruit", the researchers conclude. "Our study and previous analyses together raise questions about the wisdom of current dietary recommendations promoting consumption of tinned fruit as part of a healthy diet."

"Consumption habits are influenced by the cost and availability of food. In the UK National Food Survey tinned peaches, tinned pears and tinned pineapple were among the cheapest fruit products available, and people with low incomes consumed more canned food than people with high incomes."

Front Nutr. 2014; 1: 10.

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