Eating a diet comprising of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts and low in processed meats
can prevent onset of depression
, according to a new study.
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In the present study, the researchers compared three diets - Mediterranean diet, Pro-vegetarian diet and Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010.
"We wanted to understand what role nutrition plays in mental health, as we believe certain dietary patterns could protect our minds," said lead researcher Almudena Sanchez-Villegas from University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain.
Participants used a scoring system to measure their adherence to the selected diet, that is, a higher dietary score indicated that the participant was eating a healthier diet.
Food items such as meat and sweets (sources of animal fats: saturated and trans fatty acids) were negatively scored, while nuts, fruits and vegetables (sources of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals respectively) were positively scored.
"These diets are all associated with physical health benefits and now we find that they could have a positive effect on our mental health," Sanchez-Villegas added.
"The protective role is ascribed to their nutritional properties, where nuts, legumes, fruits and vegetables (sources of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals) could reduce the risk of depression," the researcher said.
The study included 15,093 participants free of depression at the beginning of the study.
The study was published in the open access journal BMC Medicine.