We all know eating plenty of fruit and vegetables each day is central to good health.
But it seems incorporating lots of salad and fresh dishes into our diets doesn't just benefit physical health, but mental health too.
Researchers from Edith Cowan University have examined the link between fruit and veg intake and stress levels of over 8,600 Australians aged between 25 and 91.
Accordingly, they discovered that participants 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.
"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 lead researcher, PhD candidate Simone Radavelli-Bagatini, adding: "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."
World Health Organization officials recommend eating at least 400 grams of fruit and vegetables per day.
And while it is not exactly clear how eating well can impact stress levels, the researchers suggested the 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 therefore improve mental wellbeing," Radavelli-Bagatini added. "Inflammation and oxidative stress in the body are recognised factors that can lead to increased stress, anxiety and lower mood."
Full study results have been published in Clinical Nutrition.