2009 - 2010 Undergraduate Research in Nutrition and Food Science
It is widely known that there are many health benefits to consuming ample amounts of fruits and vegetables; many studies have supported the positive affects they can have on risk factors for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. There are also studies showing that individuals consuming relatively high amounts of fruits are more likely to be at a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI). However, there is limited information showing the affect various fruits and vegetables have on BMI and the way a person perceives their mental and physical well-being. To evaluate a possible relationship, surveys were distributed to 203 volunteer participants, 114 female and 89 male. Participants were University of Kentucky students and members of the Lexington, KY community. The average of age of participants was 22.04 +/- 4.44 years old. Participants answered questions regarding their age, gender, height, weight, activity level, and specific vegetable and fruit intake. They also rated their own well-being through questions pertaining to energy levels, alertness, mood, and feeling of overall health. Results show that those who rated themselves as being in good/great overall health had a lower average BMI (22.8 +/- 3.35 kg/m2) than those who rated themselves as being in fair or poor health (24.5 +/- 4.95 kg/m2). It was also determined that while those who consumed higher amounts of leafy greens and broccoli are at a healthier BMI (23.03 +/- 4.03 kg/m2 versus 23.98 +/-4.24 kg/m2) and slightly more physically active (2.97 +/- 1.75 versus 2.56 +/- 1.87 days/week), but they do not rate themselves any higher in subjective well-being. It was seen, however, that consumption of certain foods, such as apples, may have positive effects on both BMI and all aspects of self-perceived well-being. These findings may have important implications, as they reveal the significant discrepancies in the benefits of various fruits and vegetables.