It’s easy to reach for the chips or ice cream when we are stressed. But, could eating more fruits and vegetables lead to less stress? Eating at least one pound (470 grams) of fruits and vegetables daily may lower stress levels, according to a new study.

fruits and vegetables lower stress

The Australian study examined the link between fruit and vegetable intake and stress levels of more than 8,600 study participants between the ages of 25 and 91. “We found that people who have higher fruit and veggie intakes are less stressed than those with lower intakes, which suggests diet plays a key role in mental wellbeing,” said PhD candidate Radavelli-Bagatini, from the Institute for Nutrition Research, from Edith Cowan University (ECU).

As we have reported earlier, stress is very toxic to the body. While stress is a normal part of everyday life, repeated stress can lead to disease and long-term mental health problems. “Stress is a the core cause of illness. Stress shortens your lifespan at the cellular level and increases the speed of aging,” says Amy Rothenberg, ND in this video class on how environmental toxins cause disease.

“Long-term and unmanaged stress can lead to a range of health problems including heart disease, diabetes, depression and anxiety so we need to find ways to prevent and possibly alleviate mental health problems in the future,” said Radavelli-Bagatini.

How can eating better lead to lower stress?

While the exact mechanisms behind how fruit and vegetable consumption can lower stress are still being uncovered, Radavelli-Bagatini said key nutrients are one factor. “Vegetables and fruits contain important nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, flavonoids and carotenoids that can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, and therefore improve mental wellbeing,” she said.

The science of food and mood shows that the ideal combination of healthy fats, proteins, fibrous complex carbohydrates and the right probiotic strains supports the brain, the gut microbiome and reduces inflammation. “Inflammation and oxidative stress in the body are recognized factors that can lead to increased stress, anxiety and lower mood,” said Radavelli-Bagatini.

The study highlights the importance of eating well for overall health and better mental health. Check out more on the importance of reducing stress, lowering toxin levels and eating an inflammatory diet:

Listen to Your Gut

Reduce Stress with these Easy to Follow Tips from Dr. Amy

Want to Stay Healthy as You Age? The secret is an Anti-inflammatory Diet.

Foods for Good Mood

Study Source: Fruit and vegetable intake is inversely associated with perceived stress across the adult lifespan, Clinical Nutrition, 2021.

This article is sponsored by the Institute for Natural Medicine, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, partnered with the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. INM’s mission is to transform healthcare in America by increasing both public awareness of naturopathic medicine and access to naturopathic doctors for patients. INM believes that naturopathic medicine, with its unique principles and practices, has the potential to reverse the tide of chronic illness that overwhelms existing health care systems and to empower people to achieve and maintain their optimal lifelong health. INM strives to achieve this mission through the following  initiatives:

  • Education – Reveal the unique benefits and outcomes of naturopathic medicine
  • Access – Connect patients to licensed naturopathic doctors
  • Research – Expand quality research of this complex and comprehensive system of medicine

Kimberly Lord Stewart is the content and marketing director for the Institute for Natural Medicine and author of Eating Between the Lines (St. Martin’s Press). She is the founding editor of Today’s Practitioner and has served as an award-winning editor and contributor for food, lifestyle, health and wellness publications in the consumer and trade sectors.