Feeling stressed? Grab a salad! People who eat at least six portions of fruit and vegetables a day are less tense than those who shun their greens, study reveals
- Researchers examined 8,600 adults aged 25 to 91 about greens and stress
- They found eating more fruit and vegetables resulted in 10 per cent less stress
- This applied to those consuming at least 470g per day, that is about six portions
- Authors say this could be due to them getting more key nutrients in their diet
Eating at least six portions of fruit and vegetables every day can reduce your stress levels and makes you less tense than those who avoid their greens, study shows.
Researchers from Australia’s Edith Cowan University examined the link between fruit and vegetable intake and stress levels of more than 8,600 people aged 25 to 91.
They found that those who consume at least 470g (16.5oz) of fruit and vegetables every day had 10 per cent lower stress levels than those who consumed under 230g (8oz).
According to the NHS an average adult portion of fruit or vegetables is 80g (2.8oz), so the study found you’d need about six daily portions to reduce stress.
The team say the mechanism that links fruit and veg to stress is unclear, but could be due to those consuming more getting higher doses of key nutrients in their diet.
Eating at least six portions of fruit and vegetables every day can reduce your stress levels and makes you less tense than those who avoid their greens, study shows. Stock image
HOW MUCH IS A SERVING OF FRUIT OR VEGETABLES?
ONE SERVING OF FRUIT COULD BE:
1 medium apple, pear, orange, peach or nectarine
1/2 of a medium avocado
1/2 of a medium grapefruit
4 large strawberries
1/4 of a medium pineapple
1 half-inch thick wedge of sliced watermelon, honeydew or cantaloupe
1 cup of berries
A good rule of thumb: A piece of fruit the size of your fist is about one serving
ONE SERVING OF VEG COULD BE:
1/2 a large bell pepper
5-8 broccoli or cauliflower florets
6 baby carrots or 1 whole medium carrot
1 cup of raw leafy kale, spinach or lettuce or 1/2 cup of cooked greens
1/2 of a small squash or zucchini
1/2 of a large sweet potato
Lead researcher, PhD candidate Simone Radavelli-Bagatini 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.
Mental health is an increasing problem around the world, with one in four in the UK experience a mental health problem of some kind each year.
Globally, approximately 1 in 10 people live with a mental health disorder of some kind, according to the authors of this new study.
Ms Radavelli-Bagatini said that some stress is considered normal, but 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,’ she said, adding we ‘need to find ways to prevent and alleviate mental health problems in the future.’
The benefits of a healthy diet are well known, but only about 28 per cent of people in the UK eat the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day.
‘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,’ said Ms Radavelli-Bagatini.
‘The study’s findings emphasise that it’s important for people to have a diet rich in fruit and vegetables to potentially minimise stress.’
Ms Radavelli-Bagatini said key nutrients could be a factor in explaining this link.
‘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,’ she said.
Researchers from Australia’s Edith Cowan University examined the link between fruit and vegetable intake and stress levels of more than 8,600 people aged 25 to 91. Stock image
‘Inflammation and oxidative stress in the body are recognised 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.’
The study, ‘Fruit and vegetable intake is inversely associated with perceived stress across the adult lifespan,’ was published in Clinical Nutrition.
WHAT SHOULD A BALANCED DIET LOOK LIKE?
Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain, according to the NHS
• Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruit and vegetables count
• Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain
• 30 grams of fibre a day: This is the same as eating all of the following: 5 portions of fruit and vegetables, 2 whole-wheat cereal biscuits, 2 thick slices of wholemeal bread and large baked potato with the skin on
• Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks) choosing lower fat and lower sugar options
• Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily)
• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consuming in small amounts
• Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of water a day
• Adults should have less than 6g of salt and 20g of saturated fat for women or 30g for men a day
Source: NHS Eatwell Guide