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Recent evidence suggests that dietary patterns have an impact on mental health. However, little is known about how dietary patterns may impact the stress response. The purpose of this study was to investigate how components of a vegetarian diet relate to stress and mental distress. An anonymous survey was distributed primarily through social media targeting participants from diverse backgrounds. This study analyzed a total of 585 responses from adults 18 years old or older. Spearman’s rho correlation and principal component analysis were used to assess how dietary patterns and consumption of various foods and food groups relate to perceived stress and mental distress levels. The data was analyzed in SPSS version 25.0. Our results reveal a negative correlation between stress and whole grains (⍴= -0.103), dark green leafy vegetables (⍴= -0.154), and beans (⍴= -0.102). Mental distress was a negatively correlated with whole grains (⍴= -.147), nuts and flaxseed (⍴= -0.116), dark green leafy vegetables (⍴= -0.153), yogurt (⍴= -0.084), eggs (⍴= -0.108) and raw oats (⍴= -.101). These results indicate that multiple components of the vegetarian diet are inversely associated with stress, which explains the negative association with mental distress. Our results suggest that vegetarian items improve the stress response, which eventually improves mental health.



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The Relationship Between Components of the Vegetarian Diet and Perceived Stress and Mental Distress