Wellington, May 27 : Adding a piece of fruit or a glass of milk to your children's breakfast may keep them mentally healthy, says a new study.
The new study suggests that complex food can protect teenagers from developing depression, anxiety and disobedience.
The study led by Therese O'Sullivan, from the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in Perth recruited 14-year-old girls and boys and examined their breakfast intake over three days.
"It didn't matter what they added, just that they added something different like a banana to their cereal to make that meal more complete with vitamins and minerals," the NZPA quoted O'Sullivan, as saying.
"From what we found, that makes a huge difference," she added.
Another study of more than 800 students had revealed that a complex breakfast was responsible for good mental health.
Students who ate from more food groups for their morning meal scored higher on behaviour, with an improvement in mood seen for every extra food type added.
The present study showed that one in four teens had high quality breakfast containing three or more of the five food groups, cereals, fruit, vegetables, dairy products, and meats and alternatives like beans, nuts and eggs.
"The overwhelming number just ate from two groups, and too many have just one or none at all, so there is much room for improvement," said O'Sullivan.
"For every additional food group added the mental health status improved markedly across the sample, and this was regardless of the family income, socio-economic status, the child's exercise (routine), weight and the rest of their diet," she added.
Calcium, iron and B vitamins supplied by cereal and milk influenced neurotransmitters, chemicals needed to transfer information in the nervous systems that are directly responsible for behaviour and mood.
The study will be presented at the national dieticians conference on the Gold Coast this week.