Category Archives: Healthy Lifestyle

Hungry high schoolers are up in arms about new school nutrition requirements

B1DJ8eSIQAE-vLpThe new school nutrition requirements have been rolled out in schools across the country. While the requirements have met with a positive response from most, it is beginning to appear that not all school lunches are created equally under the new standards.

The school lunch program First Lady Michelle Obama championed, the one she claimed would provide “more whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, and less fat and sodium and set sensible calorie limits” is instead leaving some students hungry. And they aren’t being quiet about it.

There are students and parents who are fed up and have posted pics of the skimpy meals being dished out at schools on Twitter.

Now one school in Wisconsin is taking it a step further. D.C. Everest High School senior Meghan Hellrood organized “pack-a-bag” day, where students brought in their own lunches to boycott the cafeteria’s lunches, which she says consist of “small portions of very processed foods.”

Meghan told Fox News that students “are sometimes given a box of raisins as the fruit portion.” She contends that the choices aren’t any healthier overall, and that:

“[Athletes] are not performing as well as they could, and people’s test scores are going down because they’re hungry throughout the day.”

Students at the school “came together to make bagged lunches for kids who can’t afford to bring their own lunch every day, and they have received donations from the community.”

Bringing a lunch from home is one way to get around the inadequate school lunches, as long as the government or unions stays out of lunch bags. There have been incidents in North Carolina and Illinois where students’ packed lunches have been confiscated by school officials who claim they don’t meet nutritional guidelines.

A quick internet search and a thorough read of comments on various reports will tell you right away that not all school districts are serving the new lunches the same way. There do seem to be some “interpretations” of the new standards that don’t look like filling lunches for growing teenagers. Students in other school districts are very satisfied with the meals being served in cafeterias. The problems that are being reported don’t seem to be about the fruit and vegetable requirements. They are, instead, about the size of the portions which in some areas have been reduced pretty drastically. In addition, reports from some athletes who participate in heavy workouts and training who need more calories are explaining that they aren’t being permitted extra food to meet their caloric needs. High schoolers and parents are speaking up and trying to effect some needed changes in those districts that are in question.

FoodFacts.com is absoutely in favor of getting healthier, more nutritious foods onto our kids lunch trays. We’re not quite sure why there seems to be portion size differences between school districts. But we do think, that like with so many other things, a one-size-fits-all definition may not be the way to go here. It’s been pointed out that for many children here in the U.S., school lunch may, in fact, be their only meal of the day. Athletes have a different calorie profile than non-athletes. And honestly, for any growing teenager, some of the meals pictured aren’t going to keep them satisfied throughout the day. So if that more nutritious lunch isn’t going to help them feel full, they are going to look to add calories in other ways, most likely by eating junk food the first chance they get outside of school. And that’s not great either. The USDA would be well served by taking an individual look at the districts that are complaining and perhaps providing some education regarding compliance with the new standards in ways that will keep more high schoolers more satisfied so that they have the fuel they need to learn and stay as active as possible throughout their days.

http://www.ijreview.com/2014/11/202894-school-lunch-boycott/

Healthy, overweight or obese? Surprisingly we can’t tell by looking

chris-christie-townhall_mediumWith all of the news surrounding obesity and the focus we all seem to put on weight, you would probably assume that you (and everyone else) is able to determine whether or not someone is a healthy weight simply by their visual image. Especially when it comes to obesity, this doesn’t seem like a difficult determination.

Researchers at the University of Liverpool say most of us — even healthcare professionals — are unable to visually identify whether a person is a healthy weight, overweight or obese.

The researchers asked participants to look at photographs of male models and categorize whether they were a healthy weight, overweight or obese according to World Health Organization (WHO) Body Mass Index (BMI) guidelines.

The majority flunked. They underestimated weight, often believing that overweight men were a healthy weight.

In a related study of healthcare professionals, the researchers also found that general practitioners and trainee GPs were unable to visually identify if a person was overweight or obese.

The researchers also examined whether increased exposure to overweight and obese people affected a person’s ability to estimate the weight of a person. Their findings suggested that exposure to heavier body weights may influence what people see as a normal and healthy weight and causes people to underestimate a person’s weight.

“We wanted to find out if people can identify a healthy, overweight or obese person just by looking at them,” said Dr. Eric Robinson, who conducted the research. Primarily we found that people were often very inaccurate and this included trainee doctors and qualified doctors too. Moreover, we found that participants systematically underestimated when a person was overweight or obese.”

“Our study of GPs also found a tendency to underestimate weight which has important implications as it means that overweight and obese patients could end up not being offered weight management support or advice,” he said.

Recent studies have found that parents underestimate their overweight or obese child’s weight and this could also act as a barrier to intervention.

FoodFacts.com wonders if the tendency to underestimate obesity by sight has something to do with people not having a clear understanding of their own weight. Of course there are weight ranges easily available that categorize healthy weights by gender, age and height. Those weight ranges do vary by source, however and may serve to confuse some. Those ranges also can’t take body type into account. While we understand that people shouldn’t be overly focused on weight for a number of good reasons, we do think that we should all have a reasonable understanding of where we stand on the healthy weight scale. Our doctors should also undoubtedly be able to guide us to what a healthy weight should be for each of us. If we can’t “see weight,” we do need that guidance. While we might be thinking it’s just “a few extra pounds,” the reality may, in fact, be quite a bit different. We owe it to ourselves to find out.

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/whos-fat-most-of-us-cant-recognize-obesity-111214.html

Brains may need fat to delay aging

illustration-of-human-brainWe know that fat is exceptionally important to the development of young brains. Babies and young children need fat for proper growth. As we age, though, fat can have less positive effects on our bodies. And understanding the difference between healthy and unhealthy fats helps us to become more aware of the importance of conscious eating. We read important information today regarding a possible link between a high-fat diet and brain aging that emphasizes the importance of healthy fats in our diets.

Brain aging can be delayed in mice if they are placed on a high-fat diet, according to a study conducted by the Center for Healthy Aging at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark and the National Institute of Health.

It is normal for defects to appear in the nervous system as people age. Among these, the brain loses some of its intellectual capacity, and the risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease increases.

Although human cells have a system for repairing damage to DNA, this repair function breaks down as we age.

This damage to DNA has been linked with Alzheimer’s and Cockayne syndrome – a premature aging disorder that results in death by the age of 10-12.

The new study uses a mouse model of Cockayne syndrome to investigate these defects to the DNA repair system.

Lead author Prof. Vilhelm Bohr – from the Center for Healthy Aging, University of Copenhagen and the National Institute of Health – describes the team’s findings:

“The study is good news for children with Cockayne syndrome, because we do not currently have an effective treatment. Our study suggests that a high-fat diet can postpone [the] aging processes.”

“A diet high in fat also seems to postpone the aging of the brain. The findings, therefore, potentially imply that patients with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease in the long term may benefit from the new knowledge,” he adds.

The researchers explain that sugar and “ketones” are sources of energy that our brains require a constant supply of. When blood sugar is low, ketones are produced by the body breaking down fat.

The researchers found that the mice with Cockayne syndrome benefited from having an extra supply of similar brain fuel, provided here in the form of medium-chain fatty acids from coconut oil.

Although the researchers did not provide Medical News Today with data on the extent of the improvement in the mice with Cockayne syndrome, Morten Scheibye-Knudsen, from the National Institute of Health, further explains the results.

“In cells from children with Cockayne syndrome,” he says, “we have previously demonstrated that aging is a result of the cell repair mechanism being constantly active.”

“It eats into the resources and causes the cell to age very quickly,” Scheibye-Knudsen adds. “We therefore hope that a diet with a high content of coconut oil or similar fats will have a beneficial effect, because the brain cells are given extra fuel and thus the strength to repair the damage.”

FoodFacts.com is reminded that not all fats need to be avoided. Our bodies need the good ones. And according to this important information, our brains can especially benefit.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/285067.php

We finally found the needle in the haystack — a real pumpkin product!

organicslide3Since the fall season began, FoodFacts.com has been on a bit of a mission. We’ve all been inundated with absolutely everything pumpkin this year. Pumpkin is in everything — or so fast food chains and food manufacturers are trying to tell us. But, for the most part, there’s really no actual pumpkin, or “pumpkin spice” in the lattes, coffees, donuts, puddings, waffles, toaster pastries or the other plethora of products we’re being offered.

We’ve located very few of these fall-flavored products that contain the ingredient they’re named for. And honestly, of those few we have located, the ingredient lists made us shy away from them anyway.

What’s a pumpkin lover to do?

Maybe you want to try Cedar’s Pumpkin Spice Hommos. If you enjoy hommos and the flavors of fall, this product really does have it all.

Nutrition Facts:

Serving Size: 2 tablespoons

Calories:              60
Fat:                      3.5 grams
Sodium:              55 mg
Sugar:                 3 grams

Ingredients: Fresh Steamed Chickpeas, Pumpkin, Water, Sunflower Oil, Sesame Tahini, Garlic, Sea Salt, Sugar, Citric Acid, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cumin, Guar Gum.

Pumpkin. Nutmeg. No controversial ingredients. Enviable nutrition facts. We haven’t found a pumpkin product that has this much to talk about all season long!

So, if you’ve been searching for the needle in the pumpkin haystack the same way we have here at FoodFacts.com, you may want to head out to the grocery store to give Cedar’s Pumpkin Spice Hommos a try. It’s great to be able to share some news about a pumpkin product you can feel good about!

http://www.cedarsfoods.com/products/hommus/all-natural-hommus-8-oz-16-oz/pumpkin-spice/

Fighting breast cancer in the kitchen

fishWe always hear about the things we shouldn’t be doing when it comes to fighting breast cancer and other diseases and health conditions. We already know that smoking and excessive alcohol consumption contribute to a greater risk of breast cancer. We’ve also heard that we should reduce our intake of red meat for the same reasons. But what should we be consuming that can help stave off breast cancer?

So tonight, FoodFacts.com wants to take a positive approach and look at some foods that help reduce our breast cancer risk.

Oily Fish
Recently, a study published in the British Medical Journal featuring data from over 800,000 participants and 20,000 breast cancer patients linked diets high in oily fish intake to a lower risk of breast cancer. Diets featuring fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel that contain high levels of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids work to help prevent breast cancer. Other sources of omega-3s are leafy greens, flaxseed and walnuts.

Berries
Featuring ellagic acid — a phytochemical linked to the prevention of a variety of cancers, including breast cancer, berries can make a big impact on your healthy diet. Both strawberries and raspberries are high in ellagic acid, but there are no bad-for-you berries — so enjoy!

Beans and other high fiber foods
Foods high in fiber have been linked to a reduced risk of breast cancer. In fact, for every 10 grams of fiber, breast cancer risk has been shown to decrease by seven percent. Breast cancer risk reduction in roughly a half cup of beans — that’s a pretty big benefit!

Cruciferous vegetables
Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and kale are all members of the cruciferous vegetable family. A compound called sulforaphane is linked to fighting the spread of tumors.

Dairy
Research has shown that high levels of vitamin D and calcium lower breast density. Women with high breast density have four to five times the risk of developing breast cancer. While researchers haven’t yet determined whether it’s the vitamin D or calcium in your diet that lowers breast density, they do believe that low-fat dairy can help fight breast cancer development.

Tomatoes and other red and orange fruits and vegetables
A colorful plate has a positive effect on breast cancer. Fruits and vegetables that are high in carotenoids may reduce your risk of aggressive breast cancer by up to 20 percent. Carotenoids make for richly colored foods, so you’ll want to add fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, cantaloupe and mangos to your diet.

It’s always important to be proactive about our health. That doesn’t simply mean avoiding lifestyle habits that contribute to the risk of breast cancer. It also includes educating ourselves on the foods that can help us reduce our risks. During breast cancer awareness month, let’s get proactive and find creative and delicious ways to add the foods that can help us make a difference in our own health to the menu!

Pushing the pumpkin envelope … Chobani Pumpkin Spice Yogurt

blended-pumpkin-spice-53ozSome would say it’s out of control. Others can’t get enough. Pumpkin flavored food products are absolutely everywhere this fall. We’ve been trying to keep up with all of them, but admittedly it’s been pretty hard. It does feel as though almost every new product introduced has the word pumpkin somewhere on its label. So what’s next?

Yogurt. Yep — Chobani has introduced Pumpkin Spice Yogurt.

We have to admit, we really aren’t able to exclaim, “Wow, that sounds so good!” But FoodFacts.com also has to admit that in comparison to the majority of pumpkin-flavored products flooding our grocery stores, restaurants and fast food chains, this one is actually something you might consider eating.

Let’s take a look:

Calories:                130
Fat:                        3 grams
Sugar:                   12 grams

Not bad. Low in calories. Low in fat. And the sugar content is pretty much on par with other Greek yogurt products.

But what about the ingredients?

Lowfat Yogurt (Cultured Pasteurized Nonfat Milk, Cream, Live and Active Cultures: S. Thermophilus, L. Bulgaricus, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus and L. Casei), Evaporated Cane Juice, Water, Pumpkin Puree, Pectin, Spice, Natural Flavors, Locust Bean Gum, Lemon Juice Concentrate.

O.k., we don’t like the natural flavors. But that’s about all we see here that would get flagged in the FoodFacts.com Food Score system. And let’s not forget to mention that this yogurt contains real, actual pumpkin puree, unlike the majority of products currently available.

So, if you’ve just got to have a pumpkin-flavored something, you might actually consider the Chobani Pumpkin-Spice yogurt. While fall-flavored Greek yogurt might not seem as alluring as that pumpkin muffin or latte, it’s a much better choice overall. After all, it contains the real thing!

http://www.chobani.com/products/blended#pumpkin-spice

Panera Bread celebrates Breast Cancer Awareness Month with the Pink Ribbon Bagel

bagels[1]RightSideOctober is the month for pink ribbons and at FoodFacts.com we do want to celebrate that. In a relatively short span of time, through the efforts of medicine, research and women, breast cancer can actually be a curable disease for many. There’s still a long way to go and awareness certainly play a tremendous role in the advancements that have been made. We’re all working together on this. So Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a valuable time for everyone. And we’re happy to see so many people, companies and brands getting involved. We only wish that when they choose to become involved, they’re careful about their choices.

So for a limited time, you can “enjoy” the Pink Ribbon Bagel at Panera Bread. This is their acknowledgement of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And, while we’re happy that they participate, we’re not exactly sure that this bagel was the way to go.

The nutrition facts for the Panera Bread Pink Ribbon bagel are a bit different than other comparable items. Take a look:

Calories              370
Fat                      7 grams
Sodium              430 mg

While these numbers aren’t horrible, a regular cinnamon raisin bagel has similar nutrition facts — a bit lower in calories and definitely higher in fat. It’s the ingredients here that we should really pay attention to:

Unbleached enriched wheat flour (flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water, cherry flavored chunk (sugar, palm kernel and palm oil, whole milk powder, cherry powder, natural flavor, soy lecithin [emulsifier], salt), cherry flavor infused cranberries (cranberries, sugar, cherry juice concentrate, citric acid, natural cherry flavor with other natural flavors, elderberry juice concentrate, sunflower oil), sweetened dried cherries (dried red tart cherries, sugar, rice flour, sunflower oil), bagel base (sugar, salt, malted barley flour, calcium sulfate, calcium carbonate, molasses powder [molasses, wheat starch], yeast, soybean oil, ascorbic acid, enzymes [wheat]), brown sugar, honey, vanilla flavor (water, propylene glycol, alcohol, artificial flavors, caramel color), yeast (yeast, sorbitan monostearate, ascorbic acid), palm oil shortening.

We’re not particularly thrilled with this. Multiple instances of natural flavors, propylene glycol, artificial flavors, caramel color doesn’t exactly add up to our idea of a an ode to Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Maybe it’s just us, but we do think that any food introduction that’s meant to honor this important month would be better with a clean ingredient list … especially with the recent research regarding certain ingredients and cancers (not to mention nutrition and cancers). Ingredients aside, it IS important to mention that a portion of the proceeds from the sales of Pink Ribbon Bagels will go to breast cancer research. And, regardless of the ingredients, we ARE a big fan of that. We’re just going to donate to the cause, without eating the bagel. Sorry, Panera Bread.

https://www.panerabread.com/en-us/menu-categories/bagels-and-spreads.html#pink-ribbon-bagel

Snack spending outpaces spending on actual food here in America

junkfood on plateHere at FoodFacts.com we spend a lot of time talking about the nutritional value of food. We’re always stressing the health benefits of real, fresh foods and pointing out foods that are nutritionally vacant. Our mission is to educate consumers, encouraging nutritional awareness. New data coming out of Nielsen, however, points directly to the idea that not enough Americans are sufficiently cognizant of nutritional value.

Nielsen has revealed that Americans are spending more on snack foods – things like protein bars, chips and beef jerky, at the same time that our spending on groceries has remained almost flat.

While are overall grocery spending increased by only 1.8%, salty snack spending (chips, crackers and pretzels) increased by 4.9%, nutrition bar sales grew by 7.8%, meat snacks (like beef jerky) rose 11.2% and sales of Greek yogurt increased by 16.6%.

Nielsen polled the 490 Americans included in their research and found that these consumers said they “enjoyed” eating all the time. That could be referred to as “grazing.” The second most common reason given for eating (enjoyment was the first reason cited), these consumers said they ate to satisfy hunger between meals.

Our need to snack has even changed the way we view certain foods, said James Russo, a senior vice president of consumer insights at Nielsen. Take breakfast cereal. Instead of eating it just for breakfast, we now see items like Kix as more of a snack food. While sales of breakfast cereal are declining overall, an increasing number of us are eating Cheerios throughout the day. Forty-four percent of Americans said they ate cereal outside a meal in the past 30 days, compared to just 19 percent who said they ate a nutrition bar during that time period, according to Nielsen.

“One of the big stories here is the blurring of what is a snack and what is a meal,” Russo said.

And the number of snacks we eat at mealtimes is expected to grow by 5 percent over the next five years. That means that in 2018, Americans will be eating snacks as meals 86.4 billion times a year, according to the NPD Group, a market research firm.

NPD predicts most of that growth will come from healthier snacks, but that doesn’t mean we’re over chocolate and chips. Instead, because we’re snacking constantly, we want snacks to be available in both decadent and healthy forms. Pepsi’s recent patent for a granola bar with Pop Rocks is one food that combines these desires, but for the most part we’re looking to eat carrots and hummus around lunchtime and then grab some candy a few hours later.

Russo pointed to Americans’ contradictory feelings toward salt as an example of this dynamic. While the top snack in North America over the past 30 days was chips or crisps, the third-highest health priority for respondents was low salt/sodium, Nielsen found.

“We want indulgent snacks but we also want healthy options for a snack,” Russo said. “We’re increasingly using all these different food products to satisfy our hunger.”

So it would appear that our health perception of certain foods has helped us to identify them as actual food, instead of snacks. For instance, some people are grabbing a nutrition bar as a meal — not as a snack. And it also appears that while health and nutrition news and research is making an impression on us, that impression doesn’t seem to be strong enough to affect our spending and consumption. We know that lowering our sodium intake is important, but we’re still purchasing (and presumably consuming) salty snacks.

Someday, we are are hopeful that we’ll get a report that sales of fruit have risen more than the sale of nutrition bars. Or that sales of produce are outpacing the sales of Greek yogurt. And as far as the polling goes, we’d prefer hearing that folks are preparing an actual lunch meal than calling a snack a meal simply because the manufacturer has gone out of their way to shape their perception of a snack. Until these things become a reality, though, we’ll just continue stressing the significant nutritional differences between real foods and snacks. We might be at this for quite a while …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/02/snack-meal-spending_n_5913166.html

Under the Bun: Wendy’s Pulled Pork Cheeseburger … can you say overkill?

pulled-pork-cheeseburger-carls-jr-hardeesSometimes FoodFacts.com tries to imagine how fast food chains comes up with their new and “different” ideas. For instance, how did Taco Bell arrive at the Waffle Taco for their breakfast menu. It isn’t exactly a natural concept to use a waffle as you would a taco shell — and while we have to admit that it might get points for creativity, texturally we just don’t see a match there. That Waffle Taco, for us, also falls into the overkill category. Too much going on to be a hand-held breakfast. We do find that many of the new fast food introductions are just “too much” — and we think the length of the ingredient lists certainly substantiate our opinion.

Wendy’s newest introduction does appear to fall into the overkill category. The Pulled Pork Cheeseburger brings together elements that we just don’t think belong in a sandwich together. We can’t help but wonder who thought of this one. It’s sort of a reach.

Let’s go under the bun and find out what’s really in the Pulled Pork Cheeseburger. First you should know what you’ll find under that brioche bun — a stack of a cheeseburger, broccoli slaw and pulled pork. The nutrition facts here just can’t be good. Let’s take a look:

Calories                                 640
Fat                                         33 grams
Saturated Fat                       13 grams
Trans Fat                              1.5 grams
Cholesterol                           130 mg
Sodium 1                              260 mg

There’s just too much of everything going on in here and none of it’s good. The nutrition facts for this sandwich are what gives fast food a bad name.

Let’s not forget to detail the ingredient list:

Brioche Bun: Enriched Wheat Flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), Water, Sugar, Yeast, Buttermilk Powder (whey solids, enzyme-modified butter, maltodextrin, salt, guar gum, annatto and turmeric [color]), Egg Yolks, Butter, Salt, Dough Conditioner (wheat flour, DATEM, contains 2% or less of: silicon dioxide [flow aid], soybean oil, enzymes [wheat], calcium sulfate, salt), Dry Malt, Calcium Propionate, Dough Conditioner (degermed yellow corn flour, turmeric and paprika [color], contains 2% or less of: natural flavor), Egg Wash (eggs, water). CONTAINS: WHEAT, EGG, MILK, 1/4 lb Hamburger Patty: Ground Beef. Seasoned with Salt, Cheddar Cheese Slice: Cultured Pasteurized Milk, Salt, Enzymes, Annatto Color. CONTAINS: MILK. Broccoli Slaw: Broccoli, Carrots, Red cabbage, Broccoli Slaw Sauce (soybean oil, water, white wine vinegar, sugar, egg yolk, distilled vinegar, mustard seed, salt, white wine, onion [dehydrated], xanthan gum, spice, garlic [dehydrated], citric acid, tartaric acid. CONTAINS: EGG, Smoky BBQ Sauce: Water, Tomato Paste, Sugar, Distilled Vinegar, Brown Sugar, Corn Syrup, Salt, Modified Cornstarch, Chili Peppers, Natural Flavor Including Smoke Flavor, Caramel Color, Onion (dehydrated), Garlic (dehydrated), Potassium Sorbate and Sodium Benzoate (preservatives), Chipotle Peppers, Molasses, Spices Including Mustard Seed, Jalapeno Pepper (dehydrated), Tamarind, Soybean Oil. Pulled Pork: Pork, Water, Modified Food Starch, Salt, Sodium Phosphate.

That’s about 86 ingredients with more than a few sources of hidden MSG and six controversial ingredients. That is definitely what we consider overkill. While we know there will be an audience for the Wendy’s Pulled Pork Bacon Cheeseburger, we’ll be sitting this one out. Even before we got to the bad nutrition facts and ridiculously long ingredient list, we couldn’t figure out why we’d want to eat a cheeseburger, broccoli slaw and pulled pork piled inside the same bun. Maybe it’s just us …

https://www.wendys.com/en-us/nutrition-info

Fruits and vegetables linked to better mental health

2012-10-10-FruitsVeggiesEating your five a day has been proven to do amazing things for health. But when we think of that, our thoughts generally turn to improved heart health, reduced risk of obesity, diabetes and even increased longevity. This new information, however, points to benefits that probably never crossed our minds.

A previous study suggested that consuming five portions of fruits and vegetables a day is the optimum amount for lowering the risk of death from any cause, which contradicts another study that suggested we should be eating seven portions of fruit and veg a day.

The researchers from this latest study, led by Dr. Saverio Stranges of the University of Warwick Medical School in the UK, used data from the Health Survey for England, which included nearly 14,000 adults over the age of 16.
This survey collected detailed information on the mental and physical health of the participants, as well as their health-related behaviors, demographics and socio-economic characteristics.

In addition, the team assessed the participants’ mental well-being using the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale, putting the top 15% of participants in the “high mental well-being” group, the bottom 15% in the low group, and those between 16-84% in the middle group.

‘The higher the veg and fruit intake, the lower the chance of low well-being’
Overall, the researchers found that high and low mental well-being were typically associated with the participants’ fruit and vegetable intake.
In detail, 35.5% of participants with high mental well-being ate five or more portions of fruits and vegetables a day, compared with only 6.8% who consumed less than one portion.

Additionally, 31.4% of the individuals from the high mental well-being group ate three to four fruit and veg portions per day, and 28.4% ate one to two.
“The data suggest that [the] higher an individual’s fruit and vegetable intake, the lower the chance of their having low mental well-being,” says Dr. Stranges.

The researchers also considered other health-related behaviors – such as smoking, alcohol intake and obesity – and found that only smoking and fruit and vegetable intake were consistently associated with mental well-being.

Dr. Stranges explains:
“Along with smoking, fruit and vegetable consumption was the health-related behavior most consistently associated with both low and high mental well-being. These novel findings suggest that fruit and vegetable intake may play a potential role as a driver, not just of physical, but also of mental well-being in the general population.”

Alcohol intake and obesity were associated with low, but not high mental well-being, the researchers add.

According to the team, high mental well-being is more than simply the absence of symptoms or illness – it is the condition of feeling good and functioning well. They add that optimism, happiness, self-esteem, resilience and good relationships are also part of this mode of being.

According to co-author Prof. Sarah Stewart-Brown, mental illness “is hugely costly to both the individual and society, and mental well-being underpins many physical diseases, unhealthy lifestyles and social inequalities in health.”

She says enabling people to maintain good well-being is important from a research perspective.

“Our findings add to the mounting evidence that fruit and vegetable intake could be one such factor and mean that people are likely to enhance their mental well-being at the same time as preventing heart disease and cancer,” she adds.

When asked about whether the study accounted for physical activity, Dr. Stranges told Medical News Today that one of the limitations of the study was that such data “was not available in the Health Survey for England,” leaving room for further study.

What a great reason to strive to eat your five a day! FoodFacts.com believes this information gives us all a new perspective on fruit and vegetable consumption — and more great reasons to tell ourselves and all our loved ones (not just our kids) “Eat your vegetables, they’re good for you!”

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/282972.php