Mediterranean diet cuts down risk of depression

October 10th, 2009 - 2:17 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Oct 10 (IANS) People who follow the Mediterranean style of diet rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains and fish seem less likely to develop depression, says a new report.
The lifetime prevalence of mental disorders has been found to be lower in Mediterranean than Northern European countries, the report says.

University of Navarra researchers studied 10,094 healthy Spanish participants who completed an initial questionnaire between 1999 and 2005.

Participants reported their dietary intake on a food frequency questionnaire, and the researchers calculated their adherence to the Mediterranean diet based on nine components.

They were a high ratio of monounsaturated fatty acids to saturated fatty acids; moderate intake of alcohol and dairy products; low intake of meat; and high intake of legumes, fruit and nuts, cereals, vegetables and fish.

After 4.4 years of follow-up, 480 new cases of depression were identified, including 156 in men and 324 in women.

Individuals who followed the Mediterranean diet most closely had a greater than 30 percent reduction in the risk of depression than those who had the lowest Mediterranean diet scores.

“The specific mechanisms by which a better adherence to the Mediterranean dietary pattern could help to prevent the occurrence of depression are not well known,” the study authors write.

Components of the diet may improve blood vessel function, fight inflammation, reduce risk for heart disease and repair oxygen-related cell damage, all of which may decrease the chances of developing depression, says a Navarra release.

These findings were published in the October issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.

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