(Natural News) The Mediterranean diet is known to be among the healthiest of diets with a lower incidence of chronic disease and greater longevity. It is considered a “gold standard” in healthy eating.
Traditional Mediterranean diets (MedDiet) are associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, a condition that overlaps with depression. The following study, which was published in the Journal of Nutrition & Intermediary Metabolism, aimed to investigate the effects of the MedDiet on mental health and quality of life in people with depression.
A total of 163 adults aged 18-65 with self-reported depression participated in a randomized controlled trial. The trial provided nutrition education and food hampers and cooking workshops every two weeks for three months, with six months follow-up.
The control group attended social groups every two weeks. During this period, the participants completed mental health, quality of life and dietary questionnaires. Data were analyzed using linear mixed modeling and Pearson correlations.
The treatment group was found to have a higher MedDiet score; consumed more vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, and legumes; consumed a greater diversity of vegetables and fruit; and had less unhealthy snacks and red meat/chicken, in comparison to the control group at three months.
Moreover, the treatment group had reduced depression scores and higher mental health and quality of life scores.
The findings indicated that reduced depression scores correlated with increased MedDiet, consumption of nuts, legumes, and a greater diversity of fruits and vegetables.
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Similar correlations were seen with other mental health and quality of life improvements, particularly for legumes and diversity of vegetables and fruits. All changes were sustained at six months.
This randomized controlled trial was the first of its kind to show a benefit of the type of diet for mental health and overall quality of life.
More on the Mediterranean Diet
MedDiet is primarily plant-based, with emphasis on fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes (beans and lentils). However, meat is not entirely taken out of the picture with this diet.
Fish and seafood are the primary sources of animal proteins and are recommended for consumption several times per week. Chicken is also included in this diet, eaten about once or twice per week, as well as eggs, eaten in moderate amounts (generally about seven eggs per week, including those used in baking). Meanwhile, red meat and sweet desserts are consumed in small amounts, only a few times per month. Desserts generally consist of fresh seasonal fruits.
Cheese and yogurt are great sources of probiotics and are eaten in small to moderate amounts anywhere from daily to weekly. Olive oil is the main source of fat and is used in cooking and on salads, while honey is the primary sweetener (but is used sparingly). Wine is consumed in moderation – one to two glasses per day for men and one glass for women – and usually with meals.
Among the many health benefits of MedDiet, it has also been shown to help decrease the risk of anxiety and depression. This type of diet is rich in the nutrients that are critical for the regulation of mood by providing the necessary fiber and probiotics involved in proper digestion, which in turn help reduce stress and enhance mood.
Reap the benefits of MedDiet today by considering to grow your own food, or shopping at your local farmers market to ensure fresh produce. In addition, including more fish and seafood in your daily meals while avoiding processed food is a great first step towards better mental health.
Keep abreast on other healthier food options for the mind at Veggie.news.