People who follow a diet rich in produce and low in processed meats may face lower risk of depression.
The Spanish researchers chose to compare three dietary patterns in order to find the influence of diet on the development of mental disorders. In the past, many studies have been conducted assessing the role of food in the prevention of non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.
The tree healthy diet patterns involved consuming high amounts of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and fish, and avoiding processed meats. These principles are part of the Mediterranean diet and other healthy diets.
As part of the survey, the scientists assessed 15,000 students enrolled in the Spanish University. At the start of the study, each participant was free of depression no matter what they ate. The investigators analyzed the participants dietary intake with the help of questionnaires completed at the beginning of the research and then again after 10 years.
After the follow-up period, more than 1,500 people in the study reported being diagnosed with depression or using antidepressant drugs. The experts discovered that the participants who stuck to the healthy patterns to a moderate or a high extent had a lower risk of depression than those who did not follow these diets.
Of the three diets, the diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole-grain bread, nuts, legumes, long-chain omega-3 and polyunsaturated fatty acids showed greatest reduction in depression risk.
“Nutrition plays an important role in mental health as we believe certain dietary patterns could protect our minds,” said Almudena Sanchez-Villegas, lead researcher from University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
“These diets are all associated with physical health benefits and now we find that they could have a positive effect on our mental health,” he added.
The researchers believe that those who follow these patterns may have a lower risk of depression because they get adequate levels of micronutrients such as Vitamin B complex, folate and Zinc – all of which are essential to brain health. IMAGE/couriermail