Barry's Nutrition Report

"Eat to Live, Not Live to Eat"
John H Weisburger, 2000

This series of occasional articles on nutrition is intended to complement the horticultural information, providing a rationale for why we might bother to grow our own plants instead of buying fruit at commercial outlets. Producing your own fruit has its advantages: the pleasure of growing your own, lower cost, convenience, confidence in pesticide history, superior flavour when the fruit is picked at the right time, and increased likelihood of improved nutrition. Relevant scientific publications are used to provide information on recent advances and understanding.

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Live Life with Gusto

For a change, we consider an Australian study (European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, (2015) 69, 585-591) rather than drawing on research conducted elsewhere.  Here is their summary of the work:

There is continued interest in the effect of diet on the incidence and severity of depression, and several studies investigating this relationship have focused on individual dietary factors or diet patterns.  In the present work we studied the association between fruit and vegetables and depressive symptoms in the mid-age cohort of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health.  A total of 6271 women with a mean age of 55 years were followed up at three surveys over 6 years.  A score of 10 or more on the Centre for Epidemiological Studies Depression-10 scale indicated depressive symptoms.  Fruit and vegetable intake was assessed using short questions.  A total of 381 women (6%) were depressed at all three surveys over the 6-year survey period.  Cross-sectional logistic regression analysis showed a reduced prevalence of depressive symptoms (odds ratio of 0.86) among women who ate 2 or more pieces of fruit/day, even after adjustment for several factors including smoking, alcohol intake, body mass index, physical activity, marital status, education level, energy consumption, fish intake and other co-morbidities. The predictive model also showed a reduced incidence of depressive symptoms (odds ratio of 0.82) among women who ate 2 or more pieces of fruit/day.  There was also an association between vegetable consumption and prevalence of depressive symptoms but at higher levels of intake.  We conclude that increasing fruit consumption may be one important means of reducing the incidence of depressive symptoms in middle-aged women.

They also made the following points:

The following independent comment can also be added:

In conclusion, this Australian study suggests fruit has more marked preventive effects than vegetables on the incidence of depression, but the best policy, as always, is to eat a balanced and varied healthy whole foods diet.

Barry Madsen

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