Eating berries regularly could give mental wellbeing a lift, suggests public health nutritionist.

Today (17 January), is Blue Monday – commonly regarded as the most depressing day of the year. And as the UK looks for ways to stay upbeat, scientific research suggests the answer could be in our diet.

Healthy eating can play a huge part in our mental wellbeing with recent research from 61 studies suggesting that consuming five-a-day and specific sub-groups of fruits and vegetables, including berries could be beneficial for mental health.

A review of trials showed that blueberries, in particular, could help to improve mood and brain function. This was attributed to blueberries’ rich polyphenol profile. 

One study focusing on wild blueberry supplementation (253 mg anthocyanins) in young people with depression (12-17 years), found that after four weeks there were significantly fewer self-reported depression symptoms in the blueberry group compared with the control group.

Other work, where children and young adults were given a flavonoid-rich blueberry drink, found that mood was improved two hours later. 

Scientists explained that blueberry flavonoids could help to improve cerebral blood flow, reduce inflammation, and induce anti-oxidative effects, which could potentially contribute to some of these effects.

Dr Emma Derbyshire, public health nutritionist and adviser to British Summer Fruits commented: “These findings are really interesting and very applicable to modern life, especially as many Brits may find themselves talking about their wellbeing over Blue Monday. The science is growing in this field and suggests that eating your five-a-day is hugely beneficial. 

“We already know that berries are great for other aspects of our health, including cardiovascular wellbeing and now evidence that berries can boost mental wellbeing is looking promising. Berries are naturally sweet and tasty, so it is very easy to integrate a handful of blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, or blackberries into our daily diet. They can also be eaten as they come or blended into smoothies if preferred.”

Love Fresh Berries, the year-round marketing campaign from British Summer Fruits, has published a range of blueberry recipes for consumers to try on its website

British Summer Fruits is an organization that represents 95 percent of berries supplied to UK supermarkets.  It funds Love Fresh Berries – a year-round campaign that celebrates the seasonality of soft fruits.