Some veggies each day keeps the stress blues away

March 15, 2017, University of Sydney
Credit: Mary LaFrance/public domain

Published today in the British Medical Journal Open, the longitudinal study of more than 60,000 Australians aged 45 years and above measured participants fruit and vegetable consumption, lifestyle factors and psychological distress at two time points, 2006-08 and 2010.

Psychological distress was measured using the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale, a 10-item questionnaire measuring general anxiety and depression. Usual and vegetable consumption was assessed using short validated questions.

Key findings

  • 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.
  • People 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.
  • Women who ate 3-4 daily serves of vegetables had an 18 per cent lower risk of stress than women 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.

At the start of the study, characteristics associated with higher stress included: being female, younger, having lower education and income, being overweight/obese, a current smoker and being physically inactive.

Fruit consumption alone had no significant association with a lower incidence of stress.

There was no significant association between higher levels of fruit and vegetable intake (greater than 7 daily serves) and a lower incidence of stress.

"This study shows that moderate daily fruit and 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. Moderate fruit intake alone appears to confer no significant benefit on people's psychological ."

These new findings are consistent with numerous cross sectional and longitudinal studies showing that fruit and vegetables, together and separately, are linked with a lower risk of depression and higher levels of well-being assessed by several measures of mental health.

"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 investigators say further studies should investigate the possibility of a 'threshold' between medium and of fruit and and .

This research was based on data from the Sax Institute's 45 and Up Study.

Explore further: Five daily portions of fruit and vegetables may be enough to lower risk of death

Related Stories

Five daily portions of fruit and vegetables may be enough to lower risk of death

July 30, 2014
These results conflict with a recent study published in BMJ's Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health suggesting that seven or more daily portions of fruits and vegetables were linked to lowest risk of death.

Fruit and veg-rich diet linked to much lower risk of chronic lung disease (COPD)

February 22, 2017
A diet rich in fruit and vegetables is linked to a significantly lower risk of developing chronic lung disease (COPD) in former and current smokers, finds research published online in the journal Thorax.

Well-being can improve quickly by eating more fruit and vegetables, study finds

February 9, 2017
Lifting your intake of fruit and vegetables can make a difference to the way you feel in just a couple of weeks, a University of Otago study has found.

Fruit and veggies pave the road to happiness

October 20, 2014
Fruit and vegetables have been identified as a vital key to mental well-being.

Eight a day is clearly best for the heart

February 23, 2017
You've heard it a thousand times, that little catchphrase with the magic number encouraging you to eat "five a day" of fruits and vegetables for better health. But it turns out that the real magic number is eight, according ...

Up to 10 portions of fruit and vegetables a day may prevent 7.8 million premature deaths

February 22, 2017
A fruit and vegetable intake above five-a-day shows major benefit in reducing the chance of heart attack, stroke, cancer and early death.

Recommended for you

Lowering hospitals' Medicare costs proves difficult

July 18, 2018
A payment system that provides financial incentives for hospitals that reduce health-care costs for Medicare patients did not lower costs as intended, according to a new study led by Washington University School of Medicine ...

Eating iron-fortified grain improves students' attention, memory

July 18, 2018
Adolescent students in a rural school in India who consumed an iron-biofortified version of the grain pearl millet exhibited improved attention and memory compared to those who consumed conventional pearl millet, according ...

People who tan in gyms tan more often, and more addictively, than others, new research shows

July 18, 2018
Gyms are places people go to get healthier. But nearly half the gyms in the U.S. contain a potentially addictive carcinogen—tanning beds, report UConn researchers in the July 18 issue of JAMA Dermatology.

Sugar improves memory in over-60s, helping them work smarter

July 18, 2018
Sugar improves memory in older adults – and makes them more motivated to perform difficult tasks at full capacity – according to new research by the University of Warwick.

Vaping tied to blood clots—in mice

July 18, 2018
A new study involving mice raises another concern about the danger of e-cigarettes in humans after experiments showed that short-term exposure to the device's vapors appeared to increase the risk of clot formation.

Omega 3 supplements have little or no heart or vascular health benefit: review

July 17, 2018
New evidence published today shows there is little or no effect of omega 3 supplements on our risk of experiencing heart disease, stroke or death.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.