Those who ate at least the fabled five-a-day saw anxiety plummet and mental well-being improve, it was found,Joinfo.com reports with reference to Express.
Researchers said the biggest benefit comes from between five and seven portions with the effect greatest in middle aged women.
Dr Melody Ding, of the University of Sydney’s School of Public Health, said: “Growing evidence suggest a link between diet and mental health.
“This study shows moderate daily fruit and vegetable consumption is associated with lower rates of psychological stress.”
The study of 60,000 Australians aged 45 and over is the latest to show regular servings of greens are a simple way to stave off disease and keep mentally active.
It comes just a month after British scientists said five-a-day was crucial to lowering the risk of heart attack, stroke and cancer.
Moderate daily vegetable intake alone was linked to lower stress levels but moderate fruit intake alone appeared to show no significant benefit.
The most potent effect was seen when fruit and veg like apples, bananas and oranges and potatoes, cucumber, lettuce and carrots were eaten together, and particularly in women.
Those eating between five and seven servings a day had a 14 per cent lower risk of stress than those who ate up to four, research showed.
Women who have between three and four servings of vegetables daily had an 18 per cent lower risk of stress than eating one serving.
Meanwhile, those having two portions of fruit had a 16 per cent lower risk of stress than those eating up to one.
But women eating between five and seven daily servings of fruit and vegetables saw a 23 per cent lower risk of stress.
The findings, published in the British Medical Journal Open, add to evidence the feel good food fires mind and body.
Professor Simon Capewell , of the UK Faculty of Public Health, said “This is a very interesting study and the new evidence suggests a causal link, that as intake of fruit and vegetables goes up, so distress goes down.
“This fits with a large amount of existing scientific evidence showing the wider health benefits of eating more and obviously eating less junk food.
“The more fruit and vegetables people routinely eat, the more they promote their health, and reduce their risks of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and common cancers”.
Experts think leafy greens like spinach, and tomatoes, boost the chemicals serotonin and dopamine in the brain which improve mood.
The researchers followed participants at two time points between 2006 and 2010 and during 2010 using a questionnaire to measure general anxiety and depression.
They found eating more than seven servings of vegetables a day did not reduce stress risk any further.
Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, said: “It’s not for nothing that we are constantly exhorted to eat our five a day.
“Many people dismiss the advice as government nannying. But they would be wrong.
“Stress can quickly drive you to comfort eating, constant snacking on the wrong types of food and weight gain.
“This study confirms that fruit and vegetables – nibbled slowly – produces the opposite effect.
Eat more vegetables than fruit and feel more relaxed and healthier for it.”
Last month analysis of 95 global studies on fruit and vegetable consumption in up to two million people found that, although five 2.8oz portions a day reduced disease risk, the greatest benefit came from eating 28oz a day, equivalent to 10 portions.
Even a modest daily intake of 7oz was associated with a 16 per cent reduced risk of heart disease, an 18 per cent reduced risk of stroke and 13 per cent reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
This amount, equivalent to two and a half portions, was also associated with a four per cent reduced risk in cancer risk and 15 per cent reduction in the risk of premature death.
Yet eating up to 14oz of fruit and vegetables a day was associated with a 24 per cent reduced risk of heart disease, a 33 per cent reduced risk of stroke, a 28 per cent reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, a 13 per cent reduced risk of total cancer and a 31 per cent reduction in dying prematurely. This risk was calculated in comparison to not eating any.
A 2.8oz portion is the equivalent to a small banana, apple, pear or large mandarin or three heaped tablespoons of cooked vegetables.
Current guidelines suggest eating at least five portions, or 14oz, every day but fewer than one in three adults in the UK achieves this.