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Diets high in fruits and vegetables can help reduce stress, study finds

A new report highlights the link between diet and mental health

Photo (c) d3sign - Getty Images
A new study conducted by researchers from Edith Cowan University explored the benefits associated with consistently eating fruits and vegetables. The researchers found that eating 470 grams of fruits and vegetables each day, which is about one pound, was linked with lower stress levels

“Vegetables and fruits contain important nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, flavonoids, and carotenoids that can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, and therefore improve mental well-being,” said researcher Simone Radavelli-Bagatini. “Inflammation and oxidative stress in the body are recognized factors that can lead to increased stress, anxiety, and lower mood.

“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 well-being,” she added. 

Improving diet and stress

For the study, the researchers analyzed data from more than 8,600 people enrolled in the Australian Diabetes, Obesity, and Lifestyle (AusDiab) Study. Throughout the study, participants reported on their diets and general stress levels so the researchers could determine what role fruits and vegetables had on long-term stress. 

Ultimately, the researchers learned that regularly consuming fruits and vegetables was linked with lower stress levels. Compared to those who ate around a half-pound of fruits and vegetables per day, those who ate a full pound every day reported 10% less stress. 

These findings are important because of the long-term consequences associated with stress disorders. The researchers explained that adding more fruits and vegetables to consumers’ diets could be a good way for them to maintain healthy stress levels.

“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. “The study’s findings emphasize that it’s important for people to have a diet rich in fruits and vegetables to potentially minimize stress.” 

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