An Australian study involving more than 60,000 volunteers aged 45 years and older found that eating fruits and vegetables lowered anxiety and depression.
The study, which was published in the British Medical Journal Open, measured psychological distress at two time points, 2006-08 and 2010 using the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale. It also assessed their intake of fruits and vegetables.
Eating a diet high in both fruits and vegetables was the most effective at keeping the blues at bay, especially in women. Women who ate five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables daily lowered their risk of stress by 23 percent.
Fruit gave the biggest bang for the least amount consumed — at least when vegetables were also included in the diet. Women who ate two servings of fruit daily lowered their risk by 16 percent when compared to women who ate no fruit or a single serving.
Men and women who ate three to four servings of vegetables a day lowered their risk of stress by 12 percent when compared to those who ate no vegetables or only one serving a day. Women who ate three to four servings of vegetables daily lowered their risk by 18 percent.
“This study shows that moderate daily fruit and vegetable consumption is associated with lower rates of psychological stress,” said Dr. 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,” Ding said.
“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 Ph.D. student, Binh Nguyen.
Fruits and vegetables are packed with stress-fighting antioxidants, including vitamin C. One German study found that berries were especially effective in fighting stress.
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