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Increased Intake of Flavonoids Associated with Lower Depression Risk

Approximately 6.7% of the adult American population suffers from depression in any given year. A recent study suggests that higher dietary consumption of flavonoids from fruit, vegetables, and herbs may lower the risk of depression in mature women.


Participants in the study included 82,643 women who took part in the Nurses’ Health study and the Nurses’ Health Study II. Dietary intake was determined every two to four years for a total of 10 years via food frequency questionnaires. Depression was either clinically diagnosed or determined via antidepressant use.


During the study period, 10,752 cases of depression were documented. After examining the data, the researchers found an inverse association between higher intakes of flavonol, flavone, and flavanone and depression risk.


Specifically, they found risk reductions between 9 and 12% for total flavonoids, polymers, and proanthocyandin intake. In addition, the reductions for mature women were as high as 17%. They also found that consuming two or more citrus fruits or juices per day was associated with an 18% lower risk of depression when compared with consuming less than one per week.


Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, the University of East Anglia, and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health conducted the study. It was published online ahed of print on July 13, 2016, in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.


Flavonoids are naturally occurring antioxidants which have previously been shown to decrease inflammation, protect our DNA from damage, and improve heart and brain health by increasing blood flow. Foods high in flavonoids include citrus fruits, grapes, strawberries, tea, cooked greens and dark chocolate.

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