When the going gets tough, it is easy to resort to curling up on the sofa consoling ourselves with junk food.

But the best way to beat stress could be to engage in healthy living, which has the added benefit of improving our health.

Linda Main, dietetic advisor at Heart UK - The Cholesterol Charity, noted that a diet rich in fruit and vegetables leads to an increased intake of certain vitamins and minerals, as well as plant fibres and complex plant nutrients known as polyphenols.

"Polyphenols are a diverse range of compounds found in plant foods which include phenolic acids, ligands, stilbenes and flavonoids. These structurally diverse compounds show a range of activities that may help explain the cardiovascular protective properties of consuming diets high in fruit and vegetables," she explained.

Meanwhile, separate research published in Cell journal shows that green vegetables can help maintain a functioning immune system by ensuring that cells in the gut and skin are working properly.

Eating a good diet could also help elevate mood, which is important in the winter months when feeling down can easily turn into an extended period of the blues.

Geoffrey Beattie, professor of psychology at the University of Manchester’s School of Psychological Sciences, noted that many people get depressed in the colder months because they have "very low expectations of what is around the corner for them".

"What is interesting from a psychology point of view is that there is a connection between feeling ill and feeling down and what the impact of our emotional state is on how well we cope with all the bugs around in the winter," he posited.

But making time to see friends could be really beneficial at this time.

"If you have got a good social support network and you’re used to seeing people, even when you are exposed to a cold virus, you are less likely to get a cold," the expert said.

So switch off that TV, make yourself a fresh fruit salad to snack on and call up a friend for a chat to make yourself feel better as the nights draw in.

Posted by Sam Wallace