New research provides yet another reason to include fruits and vegetables in the diet, after finding that eating up to seven servings per day can lower the risk of psychological stress for middle-aged women.
According to the American Psychological Association, around three quarters of adults in the United States report experiencing at least one symptom of stress over the past month, including irritability, anger, nervousness, anxiety, and depression.
Not only can stress take its toll on mental health, it can also have negative implications for physical health. A recent study reported by Medical News Today, for example, revealed how chronic stress can increase the risk of obesity, while other studies have linked stress to high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.
Of course, it is not always possible to escape stress; whether it is down to money worries, work demands, or family problems, all of us experience stress at some point in our lives.
The new study, however, suggests that simply including more fruits and vegetables in the diet may help to lower the risk of stress, particularly for women.
First study author Binh Nguyen, a Ph.D. student at the University of Sydney in Australia, and colleagues recently reported their findings in BMJ Open.
The researchers came to their conclusion after conducting an analysis of 60,404 men and women aged 45 and older, all of whom were a part of the Sax Institute’s 45 and Up Study – a large-scale study of more than 267,000 adults from Australia.
The fruit and vegetable intake of each adult was assessed between 2006 and 2008 and again in 2010. At both time points, the psychological distress of participants was measured using the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale – a 10-item questionnaire that assesses symptoms of anxiety and depression.