Women may need a more nutrient-rich diet than men to maintain positive emotional well-being, according to a study.
Researchers from Binghamton University in the US conducted an anonymous survey of 563 participants (48 per cent men and 52 per cent women) through social media.
They found that men are more likely to experience mental well-being until nutritional deficiencies arise.
Women, however, are less likely to experience mental well-being unless a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle are followed.
The study, published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience, may explain reports from previous studies that show women are at a greater risk for mental distress when compared to men.
It emphasises the role of a nutrient-dense diet in mental wellbeing.
"The biggest takeaway is that women may need a larger spectrum of nutrients to support mood, compared to men," said Lina Begdache, an assistant professor at Binghamton University.
"These findings may explain the reason why women are twice more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety and depression and suffer from longer episodes, compared to men.
"Today's diet is high in energy but poor in key nutrients that support brain anatomy and functionality," Begdache said.
Evidence suggests that our ancestors' diet, which was a high-energy-nutrient-dense diet, contributed significantly to brain volumes and cognitive evolution of mankind, said Begdache.
"Males and females had different physical and emotional responsibilities that may have necessitated different energy requirements and food preference," she said.
Gender-based differential food and energy intake may explain the differential brain volumes and connectivity between females and males, researchers said.