Healthy Foods

Eating vegetables can reduce stress significantly, study claims

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Feeling a little frazzled? Try feeding yourself a few handfuls of fennel.

A new study from the University of Sydney in Australia has found that eating three to four servings of vegetables per day can substantially reduce stress levels.

Researchers studied more than 60,000 Australian residents aged 45 and up during two time periods — from 2006 to 2008 and then 2010 — and measured both their fruit and vegetable intake. Participants were also instructed to answer a 10-item questionnaire which was used to evaluate their stress and depression levels per the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale, reports the University of Sydney in the British Medical Journal Open.

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The results indicated that subjects who ate three or four servings of vegetables had a 12 percent lower risk of feeling stressed than those didn’t. Those that ate two or three additional servings of vegetables had a 14 percent lower risk.

Women, especially, were shown to benefit from the veggie-heavy diet. According to researchers, women who ate three to four servings of veggies lowered their risk of stress by 18 percent, while those who only ate two servings of fruit lowered their risk by 16 percent. Women who ate five to seven servings of vegetables and fruits saw a 23 percent decrease in the risk of stress.

“We found that fruit and vegetables were more protective for women than men, suggesting that women may benefit more from fruit and vegetables,” said Binh Nguyen, a PhD student at the University of Sydney and the study’s lead author.

However, researchers say that eating fruit is not enough to significantly reduce stress on its own.

“[The study] also reveals that moderate daily vegetable intake alone is linked to a lower incidence of psychological stress,” added Melody Ding, an epidemiologist and behavioral scientist at the University of Sydney’s School of Public Health.

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“Moderate fruit intake alone appears to confer no significant benefit on people’s psychological stress,” she added.

The university’s research was based on data from Australia’s non-profit Sax Institute and its ongoing 45 and Up Study, which is aimed at improving the quality of life for Australian residents.