(Cover) – EN Fitness & Wellbeing – It’s time to swap that sandwich for a salad – and not just to get your body summer ready, but for your mental wellbeing too.A new study from researchers at the University of Otago in New Zealand has found eating fruit and vegetables raw, rather than cooking them or eating them from a can, is better for mental health.To reach their findings, the team, led by psychology PhD student Kate Brookie, surveyed over 400 young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 from New Zealand and the United States. They assessed the study group’s consumption of raw versus cooked and processed fruits and vegetables, and their negative and positive mental health attributes, as well as lifestyle and demographic variables that could affect the association between fruit and vegetable intake and mental health. These included exercise, sleep, unhealthy diet, chronic health conditions, socio-economic status, ethnicity, and gender.It was found that eating fruit and veg in their “unmodified” state had a positive impact on mental health. “Controlling for the covariates, raw fruit and vegetable consumption predicted lower levels of mental illness symptomology, such as depression, and improved levels of psychological well-being including positive mood, life satisfaction and flourishing. These mental health benefits were significantly reduced for cooked, canned, and processed fruits and vegetables,” co-author Dr Tamlin Conner said. “This research is increasingly vital as lifestyle approaches, such as dietary change, may provide an accessible, safe, and adjuvant approach to improving mental health.”Dr Conner believes that cooking and processing has the potential to diminish nutrient levels.In addition, authors listed the top 10 raw foods related to better mental health: carrots, bananas, apples, dark leafy greens such as spinach, grapefruit, lettuce, citrus fruits, fresh berries, cucumber, and kiwifruit.Results have been published in journal Frontiers in Psychology.© Cover Media