A balanced diet is the basis for a healthy lifestyle. In it, fruits and vegetables are a fundamental part, which influences not only physically, but also mentally. This is demonstrated by research showing that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is associated with a lower level of stress.

Specifically, the research was carried out by Edith Cowan University in Australia and published in the scientific journal Clinical Nutrition, where fruit and vegetable intake was related to stress levels in more than 8,600 Australians aged between 25 and 91 years who participated in the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle study of the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute.

Mental illness is becoming increasingly prevalent in people’s lives and it is estimated that one in two people will suffer from some form of mental health problem in their lifetime.

Lead researcher Simone Radavelli-Bagatini says this study reinforces the link between diets rich in fruits and vegetables and mental well-being. “We found that people with higher fruit and vegetable intake are less stressed than those with lower intake, suggesting that diet plays a key role in mental well-being.”

How many fruits and vegetables should be eaten per day?

The research points out that only one in two people eat the recommended two servings of fruit per day and less than one in 10 eat the recommended five servings of vegetables each day. Therefore, these are the recommendations when it comes to adding fruits and vegetables to the diet.

The researcher says that key nutrients could be a factor: “Vegetables and fruits contain important nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, flavonoids and carotenoids that can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress and thus improve mental well-being,” she says.

Both inflammation and oxidative stress in the body are factors that can lead to increased stress, anxiety and decreased mood. Therefore, the results of this research encourage further research on diet and, in particular, on which fruits and vegetables provide the most benefits for mental health.

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