Eating a diet comprising of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts and low in processed meats can prevent onset of depression, according to a new study.
In the present study, the researchers compared three diets – Mediterranean diet, Pro-vegetarian diet and Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010.
“We wanted to understand what role nutrition plays in mental health, as we believe certain dietary patterns could protect our minds,” said lead researcher Almudena Sanchez-Villegas from University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain.
Participants used a scoring system to measure their adherence to the selected diet, that is, a higher dietary score indicated that the participant was eating a healthier diet.
Food items such as meat and sweets (sources of animal fats: saturated and trans fatty acids) were negatively scored, while nuts, fruits and vegetables (sources of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals respectively) were positively scored.
“These diets are all associated with physical health benefits and now we find that they could have a positive effect on our mental health,” Sanchez-Villegas added.
“The protective role is ascribed to their nutritional properties, where nuts, legumes, fruits and vegetables (sources of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals) could reduce the risk of depression,” the researcher said.
The study included 15,093 participants free of depression at the beginning of the study.