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10/14/2009 - News

Mediterranean Diet May Reduce Risk of Depression

By: June Chen, MD

Many health benefits have been associated with adherence to a Mediterranean diet. Now, researchers from Spain report in the October 2009 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry that following a Mediterranean diet may decrease the risk of developing depression.

Over 10,000 healthy Spanish university graduates participated in a study to assess the association between adherence to a Mediterranean diet and the incidence of clinical depression. The study participants reported their dietary intake on a food frequency questionnaire. A Mediterranean diet was considered to one that was rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, and fish. After an average follow-up period of 4.4 years, 480 new cases of depression were identified among study participants. The researchers found that study participants who followed the Mediterranean diet were less likely to develop depression than those who ate more meat, meat products, or whole-fat dairy.
In this study, the rates of depression were approximately 30 percent lower among those with the highest consumption of fruit, nuts, legumes, and monounsaturated fats. The study authors interpret their findings to mean that an overall healthy diet such as a Mediterranean diet might be able to reduce the risk of depression by improving brain function and building greater resilience to control stress and better face daily frustrations. However, they emphasize that their results need to be reproduced in a primary prevention trial. Additional research is also needed to see whether the benefits of the Mediterranean diet in reducing depression risk could be replicated in another country.


Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2009;66(10):1090-1098.

Created on: 10/11/2009
Reviewed on: 10/14/2009

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