Research shows more is better when it comes to fruits and vegetables if you are concerned about stress. That’s because scientists in Australia discovered those in their study who ate the most fruits and vegetables had 10 percent lower stress levels than those who ate less.
Researchers at Edith Cowan University looked at the fruit and vegetable intake and stress levels of more than 8,000 participants between the ages of 25 and 91. It was part of a study regarding diabetes, obesity, and lifestyle in Australia. The results of the study were published in the journal Clinical Nutrition.
The World Health Organization recommends consuming at least 400 grams of fruit and vegetables a day. Those in the study who ate at least 470 grams recorded less stress compared to those who at less than 230 grams. The measure of 470 grams is equivalent to two cups of fruits and vegetables.
Lead researcher Simone Radavelli-Bagatini said their findings strengthen the correlation that has been discovered between nutrition and mental wellness, especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables.
"We found that people who have higher fruit and veggie intakes are less stressed than those with lower intakes, which suggests diet plays a key role in mental wellbeing," Radavelli-Bagatini said.
It is estimated as many as 50 percent globally will experience some sort of mental health issue during their lifetime and 1 in 10 live with one on a daily basis. Some stress is normal but scientists fear long-term exposure can have a significant impact on a person’s mental wellbeing.
"Long-term and unmanaged stress can lead to a range of health problems including heart disease, diabetes, depression and anxiety so we need to find ways to prevent and possibly alleviate mental health problems in the future," Radavelli-Bagatini said. "Previous studies have shown the link between fruit and vegetable consumption and stress in younger adults, but this is the first time we're seeing similar results across adults of all ages. The study's findings emphasize that it's important for people to have a diet rich in fruit and vegetables to potentially minimize stress."
While the research did not show the reason fruit and vegetable intake affected stress, scientists believe key nutrients could be the reason.
"Vegetables and fruits contain important nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, flavonoids and carotenoids that can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, and therefore improve mental wellbeing," Radavelli-Bagatini said. "Inflammation and oxidative stress in the body are recognized factors that can lead to increased stress, anxiety and lower mood. These findings encourage more research into diet and specifically what fruits and vegetables provide the most benefits for mental health."