Brain Health, Diet and Brain Health

Mediterranean Diet for Depression

New research from a team in Australia shows that a Mediterranean diet may help reduce depression. Imagine being able to reduce depression symptoms simply by changing your diet! Researchers organized two groups of participants; one including people who would switch to a Mediterranean diet for six months, and a comparison group of participants who did not make any dietary changes. The experimental group was given fish oil capsules and food supplies along with cooking classes on how to prepare Mediterranean food. The comparison group attended social gatherings instead of the cooking classes and did not receive the fish oil or fresh foods. Participants’ depression and diet were monitored at three and six months.

The Mediterranean group reported eating a much wider variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and wholegrain foods while consuming fewer unhealthy snacks, meat, and chicken. Overall, both groups reported diminished depression scores, but the Mediterranean group improved by more (45%) than the social group (26.8%)! The experimental group had significantly better scores of depression and overall mental health than the comparison group by the three-month assessment. A combination of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and omega-3 helped reduce anxiety, depression, negative emotions, and maladaptive coping. This research offers hope for alternative and non-pharmaceutical means to reduce mental health issues and promote overall healthy living. Sounds like a Mediterranean meal needs to be on my dinner table tonight; how about yours?

Nutritional neuroscience, 2017; 1-14.

Parletta, N., Zarnowiecki, D., Cho, J., Wilson, A., Bogomolova, S., Villani, A., … & Segal, L. (2017). A Mediterranean-style dietary intervention supplemented with fish oil improves diet quality and mental health in people with depression: A randomized controlled trial (HELFIMED). Nutritional neuroscience, 1-14.

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