Since becoming a parent I have often thought there was a link between stress and fruit and vegetables.
In particular, every time I ask my kids to eat either it is more often than not met with some resistance from at least one of the three.
The more they resist, the more my stress levels rise.
Well, as it turns out, new research has shown there is definitely a link, just not exactly the one I had not-so scientifically come up with.
Eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables is associated with less stress, according to new research from Edith Cowan University (ECU).
The study examined the link between fruit and vegetable intake and stress levels of more than 8600 Australians aged between 25 and 91 participating in the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle (AusDiab) Study from Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute.
The findings revealed people who ate at least 470 grams of fruit and vegetables daily had 10 per cent lower stress levels than those who consumed less than 230 grams.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends eating at least 400 grams of fruit and vegetables per day.
Lead researcher, PhD candidate Simone Radavelli-Bagatini from ECU's Institute for Nutrition Research, said the study strengthens the link between diets rich in fruit and vegetables and mental well-being.
"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 well-being," Ms Radavelli-Bagatini said.
Another thing I have noticed since having kids is that I can prepare school lunchboxes full to the brim with carrots, cucumbers, capsicum, tomatoes, mandarins, apples and bananas yet somehow only one or two pieces of fruit or vegetables make it into my own lunchbag for work and often I find myself at the vending machine by mid-afternoon. Preparation is obviously key, so taking a little time each day to include more fruit and vegetables into meals could prove beneficial.
Ms Radavelli-Bagatini said only one in two Australians eat the recommended two serves of fruit per day and fewer than one in 10 eat the recommended five serves of vegetables each day.
"Previous studies have shown the link between fruit and vegetable consumption and stress in younger adults, but this is the first time we're seeing similar results across adults of all ages," Ms Radavelli-Bagatini said.
"The study's findings emphasise that it's important for people to have a diet rich in fruit and vegetables to potentially minimise stress."
Ms Radavelli-Bagatini said some stress is considered normal, but long-term exposure can impact mental health.
"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," she said.
The research is part of ECU's recently launched Institute for Nutrition Research, which aims to investigate how nutrition can help prevent and treat chronic health conditions.
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Renee Valentine is a journalist, qualified personal trainer and mother of three.