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Eating more fruit and vegetables linked to less stress, study finds

Eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables is associated with less stress, according to new research. The findings revealed people who ate at least 470 grams of fruit and vegetables daily had 10 per cent lower stress levels than those who consumed less than 230 grams.

Eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables is associated with less stress, according to new research.


The study examined the link between fruit and vegetable intake and stress levels of more than 8,600 Australians aged between 25 and 91 participating in the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle (AusDiab) Study from Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute.

The findings revealed people who ate at least 470 grams of fruit and vegetables daily had 10 per cent lower stress levels than those who consumed less than 230 grams. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends eating at least 400 grams of fruit and vegetables per day. Lead researcher, PhD candidate Simone Radavelli-Bagatini from ECU's Institute for Nutrition Research, said the study strengthens the link between diets rich in fruit and vegetables and mental wellbeing.

"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," said Ms Radavelli-Bagatini.

A growing issue Mental health conditions are an increasing problem around the world. Globally, approximately 1 in 10 people live with a mental health disorder. While some stress is considered normal, long-term exposure can significantly impact mental health. 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.

The benefits of a healthy diet are well known, but fewer than 1 in 10 eat the recommended five servings of vegetables each day. Food and mood While the mechanisms behind how fruit and vegetable consumption influences stress are still unclear, key nutrients could be a factor. 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. Inflammation and oxidative stress in the body are recognized factors that can lead to increased stress and anxiety. These findings encourage more research into diet and specifically what fruits and vegetables provide the most benefits for mental health.



Reference:

  1. Simone Radavelli-Bagatini, Lauren C. Blekkenhorst, Marc Sim, Richard L. Prince, Nicola P. Bondonno, Catherine P. Bondonno, Richard Woodman, Reindolf Anokye, James Dimmock, Ben Jackson, Leesa Costello, Amanda Devine, Mandy J. Stanley, Joanne M. Dickson, Dianna J. Magliano, Jonathan E. Shaw, Robin M. Daly, Jonathan M. Hodgson, Joshua R. Lewis. Fruit and vegetable intake is inversely associated with perceived stress across the adult lifespan. Clinical Nutrition, 2021; 40 (5): 2860 DOI: 10.1016/j.clnu.2021.03.043


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