It’s a well-known fact that food can boost your mood and you can quite literally eat your way to a good day if you choose the right meals, but a recent scientific review has found that the diet we choose can have a very real effect on our mental health too.
After analysing 41 studies focused on the link between depression and food, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis found that eating a Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of depression by as much as a third.
Based on the foods and lifestyle of people living in countries surrounding the Mediterranean sea such as Greece and Cyprus, key ingredients of the diet include fresh fish, nuts, olive oil, lots of plant foods and even the odd glass of wine (or two).
“Especially the omega three fatty acids – those are known to have pretty clear effects with depression,” revealed researcher Charles Conway, who was part of the team to discover that a Mediterranean diet was linked to a 33% lower risk of depression.
It’s estimated that as many as 45% of Australian’s will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime, with around one million adults suffering from depression every year according to mental health support service Beyond Blue.
Specific foods that proved to boost the mood of those who ate them included avocados, berries, tomatoes, leafy greens, walnuts, seeds, and beans – most of which feature in a Mediterranean diet.
Last week, a Mediterranean diet was named the best diet of 2019, with nutritionists agreeing it ranks top thanks to a long list of physical health benefits including a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
Conway added that the active Mediterranean lifestyle was also likely to contribute to the reduced risk of depression in those that followed the diet.
“Pushing yourself to exercise regularly probably helps with some degree of mood improvement,” Conway said.
Unsurprisingly, researchers from Washington University also found that processed foods and foods high in sugar and saturated fats had a negative effect on mental health and actually increased the risk of depression.
Read more: The ultimate seven-day Mediterranean meal plan