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Following the Mediterranean Diet May Lower Risk of Depression

Previous studies have found a link between several dietary patterns and a reduced risk of depression. A recent study suggests that eating a Mediterranean diet or any other diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts and low in processed meats may be associated with a lower risk of developing depression.

Participants in the study included 15,093 people who did not have depression at the beginning of the study. They were all part of the SUN Project, a cohort study that began on December 21, 1999. The study has been used to identify associations between dietary and lifestyle choices and a range of conditions, including diabetes, obesity, and depression.

All of the participants filled out dietary questionnaires at the onset of the study and 10 years later. 1,550 of the participants reported a clinical diagnosis of depression or had used antidepressant drugs 8.5 years after the study began.

After examining the data, the researchers found that the Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010 was associated with the greatest reduction of risk of depression with the Mediterranean diet following closely behind. Both the Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010 and the Mediterranean diet focus on omega 3 fatty acids, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and moderate alcohol intake.

The researchers did not find any added benefit to high or very high adherence to the diets due to a suspected threshold effect.

Researchers from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria conducted the study. It was published on September 17, 2015, in BMC Medicine.

Previous research has shown that the Mediterranean diet and other similar diets may improve heart health, lower the risk of diabetes, asthma, lower rates of obesity and possibly even decrease the overall risk of mortality.

The key components of the Mediterranean diet are eating primarily plant-based foods, replacing butter with olive oil, using herbs and spices instead of salt, eating red meat no more than a few times a month, eating fish and poultry at least twice a week.

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