The more fruit and vegetables people eat, especially women, the less stress they feel, according to new research.
A longitudinal study of more than 60,000 Australian men and women aged 45 and over found eating five to seven daily serves of fruit and vegetables was associated with a 14 per cent lower incidence of psychological stress compared to those who ate less than this.
Researchers at University of Sydney in Australia found that people who ate 3-4 daily serves of vegetables had a 12 per cent lower risk of stress than those who ate 0-1 serves daily. Those who ate 5-7 daily serves of fruit and vegetables had a 14 per cent lower risk of stress than those who ate 0-4 serves daily.The study also found that women who ate 3-4 daily serves of vegetables had an 18 per cent lower risk of stress than those who ate 0-1 serves daily.
Women who ate 2 daily serves of fruit had a 16 per cent lower risk of stress than women who ate 0-1 serves daily. Women who ate 5-7 daily serves of fruit and vegetables had a 23 per cent lower risk of stress than women who ate 0-1 serves daily. "This study shows that moderate daily fruit and vegetable consumption is associated with lower rates of psychological stress," said Melody Ding of the University of Sydney's School of Public Health.
"It also reveals that moderate daily vegetable intake alone is linked to a lower incidence of psychological stress. Moderate fruit intake alone appears to confer no significant benefit on people's psychological stress," said Ding. Psychological distress was measured using the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale, a 10-item questionnaire measuring general anxiety and depression.
Usual fruit and vegetable consumption was assessed using short validated questions. "We found that fruit and vegetables were more protective for women than men, suggesting that women may benefit more from fruit and vegetables," said first author and University of Sydney PhD student, Binh Nguyen. The study was published in the British Medical Journal Open.
Earlier this year researchers at Deakin University's Food and Mood Centre showed the widely lauded Mediterranean diet to be a powerful treatment for major depression.