Associations between fruit and vegetable consumption and psychological distress: results from a population-based study

BMC Psychiatry. 2015 Oct 1:15:213. doi: 10.1186/s12888-015-0597-4.


Background: Several studies observed associations of various aspects of diet with mental health, but little is known about the relationship between following the 5-a-day recommendation for fruit and vegetables consumption and mental health. Thus, we examined the associations of the Swiss daily recommended fruit and vegetable intake with psychological distress.

Methods: Data from 20,220 individuals aged 15+ years from the 2012 Swiss Health Survey were analyzed. The recommended portions of fruit and vegetables per day were defined as 5-a-day (at least 2 portions of fruit and 3 of vegetables). The outcome was perceived psychological distress over the previous 4 weeks (measured by the 5-item mental health index [MHI-5]). High distress (MHI-5 score ≤ 52), moderate distress (MHI-5 > 52 and ≤ 72) and low distress (MHI-5 > 72 and ≤ 100) were differentiated and multinomial logistic regression analyses adjusted for known confounding factors were performed.

Results: The 5-a-day recommendation was met by 11.6 % of the participants with low distress, 9.3 % of those with moderate distress, and 6.2 % of those with high distress. Consumers fulfilling the 5-a-day recommendation had lower odds of being highly or moderately distressed than individuals consuming less fruit and vegetables (moderate vs. low distress: OR = 0.82, 95 % confidence interval [CI] 0.69-0.97; high vs. low distress: OR = 0.55, 95 % CI 0.41-0.75).

Conclusions: Daily intake of 5 servings of fruit and vegetable was associated with lower psychological distress. Longitudinal studies are needed to further determine the causal nature of this relationship.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet / psychology*
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology
  • Female
  • Fruit*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Stress, Psychological / diet therapy
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control*
  • Switzerland / epidemiology
  • Vegetables*
  • Young Adult