In a study involving more than 8,600 Australian adults, higher intake of fruits and vegetables was associated with lower perceived stress, particularly in the middle-aged adults.
The World Health Organization recommends eating at least 400 grams of fruit and vegetables per day. Image credit: Ben Davies.
“Poor nutritional habits are linked to higher perceived stress, but the relationship between fruit and vegetable intake and stress is uncertain,” said Simone Radavelli-Bagatini, a Ph.D. candidate in the Institute for Nutrition Research at Edith Cowan University, and colleagues.
“The primary aim of our cross-sectional study was to explore the relationship between fruit and vegetable intake and perceived stress in a population-based cohort of men and women aged over 25 years.”
In the study, the researchers examined the link between fruit and vegetable intake and stress levels in 8,689 participants of the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle (AusDiab) Study.
They found that people who ate at least 470 grams of fruit and vegetables daily had 10% lower stress levels than those who consumed less than 230 grams.
Similar associations were found for fruits and vegetables, analyzed separately.
“Some stress is considered normal, but long-term exposure can significantly impact mental health,” Radavelli-Bagatini said.
“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.”
“Our study strengthens the link between diets rich in fruit and vegetables and mental wellbeing,” she added.
“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.”
“The findings emphasize that it’s important for people to have a diet rich in fruit and vegetables to potentially minimize stress.”
Simone Radavelli-Bagatini et al. 2021. Fruit and vegetable intake is inversely associated with perceived stress across the adult lifespan. Clinical Nutrition 40 (5): 2860-2867; doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2021.03.043