Daily consumption of fruit may play a role in maintaining mental health, a study from the University of Queensland says.

The new research shows women who eat fewer than two serves of fruit a day face a greater risk of developing depression.

“We found that women who ate at least two servings of fruit a day were less likely to suffer from depression than women who ate fewer servings, even after taking into account other factors such as smoking, alcohol, body mass index, physical activity, marital status and education,” UQ School of Population Health’s Professor Gita Mishra said.

“We also found that eating two or more servings of fruit a day protected women from developing depression in the future.”

The findings came from a six-year study of more than 6000 Australian women, which revealed a clear link between fruit consumption and the development of depressive symptoms.

Professor Mishra said the same link was not found between vegetable intake and depression.

“More research is needed on the different effects of fruit and vegetables, but this may be because fruit has higher levels of anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidants, such as resveratrol, which is not found in vegetables,” she said.

But the findings do highlight the importance of a high fruit diet to help avoid the development of depression in middle age.

“Women experience depression at about twice the rate of men, and the rate of depression is growing rapidly,” Professor Mishra said.

“By 2030 it is expected to be one of the world’s top three diseases, making it a priority area for public health interventions.”

The report has been published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition