A Diet Rich In Fruits And Veggies Could Help Ward Off Depression

Step away from the processed deli meats.
Betsie Van der Meer via Getty Images

Eating a healthy diet could help prevent depression, according to a study published in the journal BMC Medicine in September.

The study, which tracked more than 15,000 former Spanish university students, found that those who adhered to diets rich in fruit, vegetables, legumes and nuts and low in processed meats were less likely to develop depression over the 10 years of the study than those whose diets were heavier in meat and sweets.

The diet that showed the biggest reduction in depression risk was the Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010, which is similar to the Mediterranean diet and includes vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and moderate alcohol consumption.

It's worth noting that while adhering even moderately to one of the healthy diets was associated with decreased depression risk, adhering strictly or extremely strictly did not yield extra depression protection benefits.

It's been a boom year for mental health and nutrition research.

Although at this point research is too limited to make official policy suggestions, the link between mental health and diet was considered for the first time by a major advisory task force, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, in February 2015.

"I’m proud that we took that up and I hope that it’ll be a part of nutrition research moving forward," Tom Brenna, a member of the advisory committee and a professor at Cornell University previously told The Huffington Post. "What happens above the neck is pretty important.”

And just last week, a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found that people in Europe who ate the most fish were 17 percent less likely to be depressed than people who ate the least amount of fish.

Researchers hypothesized that the fatty acids in fish could affect the brain's neurotransmitters, which play a role in depression. The suggestion is in line with the American Psychiatric's Association's classification of omega-3 fatty acid supplements as "complementary therapy" for major depressive disorder. Of course, it's also possible that the study participants who ate the most fish had healthier diets overall.

Also on HuffPost:

Summer Weather

12 Surprising Causes Of Depression

Before You Go

Popular in the Community