We all know the benefits of eating a healthy diet for our physical health. It’s been shown to help protect against a raft of conditions such as stroke, heart attacks and diabetes and the importance of diet in maintaining health is well established. But what has not been understood so well is the link between what we eat and mental health. A new study, however, has revealed that people who follow dietary patterns that prominently feature vegetables, fruit, nuts and legumes may have a reduced risk of depression.
For the study, a team of researchers from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in Spain organised a very large research project with thousands of patients recruited. None had a diagnosis of depression at the start of the study. Their diets were closely monitored and when they were followed up ten years later, those who had adhered to a clearly defined diet consisting of high levels of vegetables, fruits, whole-grain bread, nuts, legumes and omega-3 fatty acids were found to be far less likely to have developed depression than the others on a less healthy diet. Even more interesting was that even a moderate adherence to these healthy dietary patterns was associated with an important reduction in the risk of developing depression, suggesting that you don’t need to eat healthily obsessively, but it’s good to do so most of the time.