Heart-friendly mediterranean diet also beats the blues

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Heart-friendly mediterranean diet also beats the blues

Eating a mediterranean-style diet not only lowers the risk of heart attacks, strokes and certain cancers, but may also reduce the risk of developing depression by almost a third.

A Spanish study looked at the eating habits of more than 10,000 healthy people over roughly 4.5 years. It was found that eating a diet high in unsaturated fats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, fish, legumes and cereals reduced the risk of developing depression by more than 30 per cent overall when compared with ignoring the dietary rules of a mediterranean diet. (See below for a description of this diet). This lowering of risk was still present when other mood-boosting effects were taken into account (such as being married, having children, leading a healthy lifestyle and personality traits).

Also, the researchers found that the reduction in risk of depression was directly related to:

  • eating more fruit
  • eating more nuts
  • changing the oils and fats you eat so that you eat more unsaturated fat compared with saturated fat
  • eating more (for example peas, beans, peanuts, carob, lentils and soy).

The study's authors say that the results of their research are encouraging, but more studies will be needed to confirm the positive effects of a mediterranean diet.

A mediterranean-style diet is one that:

  • encourages regular exercise to help with weight control and give your heart a good workout
  • features large amounts of fruits and vegetables instead of other foods
  • uses unsaturated fats (such as olive oil) instead of saturated ones (such as butter, ghee or lard)
  • cuts out salt from cooking by using herbs and spices instead
  • encourages eating small amounts of nuts regularly (for example having a handful as a snack once a day)
  • allows you to drink red wine in small amounts 
  • has very little red meat
  • adds at least two fish or shellfish meals to your weekly diet.

More on healthy eating to lower blood pressure

Eating fruit and vegetables, reducing saturated fats and cutting down on salt will help to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol and help to prevent heart attacks and strokes:

Sánchez-Villegas A, Delgado -Rodríguez M, Alvaro Alonso A et al. Association of the Mediterranean Dietary Pattern With the Incidence of Depression. Arch Gen Psychiatry 2009;66(10):1090-1098.

Topics: Research, Lifestyle

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