Eating a Mediterranean diet or other healthy dietary pattern, comprising of fruit, vegetables, legumes, and nuts and low in processed meats, is associated with preventing the onset of depression, suggests a recent research.
Not only are they good for a healthy body, but also fruit and vegetables protect your mind. A large study of 15,093 people suggests depression could be linked with nutrient deficits. This is the first time that several healthy dietary patterns and their association with the risk of depression have been analyzed together. The researchers compared three diets; the Mediterranean diet, the Pro-vegetarian Dietary Pattern and Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010.
Participants used a scoring system to measure their adherence to the selected diet, i.e. the higher the dietary score indicated that the participant was eating a healthier diet. Food items such as meat and sweets (sources of animal fats: saturated and trans fatty acids) were negatively scored, while nuts, fruits and vegetables (sources of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals respectively) were positively scored.
Lead researcher, Almudena Sanchez-Villegas, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, said that these diets are all associated with physical health benefits and now we find that they could have a positive effect on our mental health, adding that the protective role is ascribed to their nutritional properties, where nuts, legumes, fruits and vegetables (sources of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals) could reduce the risk of depression.
A limitation of this study was that the results are based on self-reported dietary intake and a self-reported clinical diagnosis of depression. More research is needed to predict the role of nutrient intake for neurophysiological requirements and identify whether it is minerals and vitamins or proteins and carbohydrates that cause depression.
The study is published in the open access journal BMC Medicine