Mediterranean Diet May Fight Depression
Study Shows Foods Like Vegetables, Fruits, and Nuts Linked to Lower Risk of Depression
Oct. 5, 2009 -- A new study suggests people who follow a traditional
Mediterranean diet, rich in foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains,
olive oil, and fish, may be less likely to develop depression.
Researchers say rates of depression are lower in Mediterranean than northern
European countries, and the findings suggest that the food of the Mediterranean
diet may an important role in fighting depression.
The study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, involved
10,094 healthy Spanish adults. Researchers collected information on the foods
they regularly ate and then rated their diets based on adherence to the
following components of the Mediterranean diet:
- High ratio of monounsaturated fatty acids (such as those found in olive
oil) to saturated fatty acids (found in animal fats like butter and meat).
- Moderate use of alcohol and dairy products.
- Low intake of meat.
- High intake of legumes, fruits, nuts, cereals, vegetables, and fish.
After nearly four and a half years of follow-up, 480 new cases of depression
The results showed those who most closely followed the Mediterranean diet
were more than 30% less likely to develop depression than those who least
adhered to the diet.
Researchers say it's unclear exactly how the foods of the Mediterranean diet
may fight depression. But individual components of the diet may improve blood
vessel function, fight inflammation, reduce the risk of heart disease, and
repair oxygen-related cell damage, all of which may affect the risk of
"However, the role of the overall dietary pattern may be more important than
the effect of single components," write Almudena Sanchez-Villegas, B. Pharm,
PhD, of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in Pamplona, Spain, and
colleagues. "It is plausible that the synergistic combination of a sufficient
provision of omega-three fatty acids together with other natural unsaturated
fatty acids and antioxidants from olive oil and nuts, flavonoids and other
phytochemicals from fruit and other plant foods and large amounts of natural
folates and other B vitamins in the overall Mediterranean dietary pattern may
exert a fair degree of protection against depression."