According to science, all you need to do during a stress period is to eat a piece of fruit.

Human stress is a part of life here on earth, especially if you are in an urban, fast-moving lifestyle, but even farmers, horticulturists, home growers, and gardeners sometimes get highly stressed as some of the external factors such as sunshine, temperatures, rainfall, wind, etc. can’t easily be controlled. Avoiding stress completely? – impossible. The key is just to manage it.

There are many stress releasers available such as breathing techniques, prayer, hobbies such as gardening, getting enough good sleep, spending time in nature, sports and exercise. We know them all.

But here’s where it gets interesting: Science says you can replace your active technique with a piece of fruit in order to relieve stress. (H/t to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s daily newsletter.)

In a study published in Psychosomatic Medicine – researchers had participants engage in progressive muscle relaxation for five minutes, and then eat a piece of fruit. The kind of fruit didn’t matter, as long as the person liked it. And who doesn’t like berries, right? Bear with me on this one.

Progressive muscle relaxation is basically a simple method where you take a long deep breath, tense all your muscles (think about squeezing your hands into fists), and then relax while breathing out. Do this for 5 minutes, and it can lift your mood.

In the research study, each person did that once a day for a week. Seven days later, the participants could feel less stressed simply by eating only the piece of fruit. They didn’t need the muscle relaxation session; the Pavlovian association between eating fruit and feeling better was all they needed to get the same stress-relieved result.

It gets even more interesting: People who considered themselves to be “stress eaters” experienced a 70 percent increase in their preference for fruit as a comfort food. There you go: Bite on something healthy for you and reduce stress. Win-win.

Keep in mind the researchers designed the experiment with a broader goal in mind. Perceived stress, lower fruit intake, and “comfort eating” unhealthy food are all risk factors for chronic disease. So, they chose fruit as a Pavlovian intervention (substitution) for stress in an attempt to replace comfort foods high in calories, fat, sugar, and salt. (Studies show nearly 40 percent of adults eat unhealthy foods because of stress.).

To summarise: Engage in an active technique that reduces stress such as gardening where you can even plant your own berry plants, then add another positive habit such as eating a berry or two. You will probably get a double-boosting reward when you are eating your own home-grown berries. There is something special about growing your own food which I love and can never get used to.

If nothing else, adding more fruit to your diet is good for you.

But it could also mean in situations where you don’t have the time or opportunity to take some deep breaths, or go for a quick walk, or stretch… that reaching for an apple, grape, or berry might be all you need to feel calmer, and more relaxed.



Berries For Africa is a contract nursery grower and supplier of various berry plants. Apart from supplying plants, we offer turnkey consultation services for your production system. These include soil testing and rectifications, planting, fertilising, trellising, hydroponic systems, integrated pest and disease management, pruning, harvesting, and last but not least, the marketing of your fruit.

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