The Mediterranean Diet Plan Improves Mood: Research Uncovers a Connection Between Diet and Depression

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The Mediterranean diet plan may benefit more than just a person’s waist line. This popular diet may also offer protection from depression, according to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry (October 2009). Researchers evaluated the eating habits of 11,000 people in Spain. They found that the participants who followed the Mediterranean diet the closest decreased their risk for depression by 30 percent.

Researchers aren’t exactly sure what the connection is between this particular diet and mental health. However, they think it may be that the Mediterranean diet plan supports the healthy functioning of blood vessels, reduces inflammation, and helps cells heal from oxygen related damage. All of these effects can help reduce the likelihood for depression.

The Mediterranean Diet Menu

According to the American Heart Association, the Mediterranean diet menu consists of large quantities of vegetables, fruits, rice, pasta, beans, bread, and potatoes. Many people who are on the Mediterranean diet eat around nine servings of fruits and vegetables daily.Seeds and nuts are also a part of this diet. Red meat, poultry, and fish are eaten in moderation.

The Mediterranean diet menu also includes generous amounts of foods that contain the so called good fats. Monounsaturated fats like olive oil and polyunsaturated fats such as omega-3 fatty acids contained in nuts and fish are examples of essential fats. People who closely follow the Mediterranean diet use olive oil as their main source for fat rather than dairy or animal fats.

Many of the foods on this menu such as fish, nuts, and beans are rich in selenium, a mineral necessary for maintaining good health. This may partially explain the connection between the Mediterranean diet and depression prevention. Multiple studies, including one at Texas Tech University found that selenium supplements can relieve mild to moderate depression. However, it is better to get selenium from foods rather than supplements to avoid a toxic reaction.

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Vitamin D as a Depression Remedy

Foods containing vitamin D are also showing promise as a depression remedy. A study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry journal (May 2008), uncovered a possible connection between depression and a vitamin D deficiency. Researchers analyzed 1,282 seniors for depression. The participants were between the ages of 65 and 95.

Researchers found that more than a third of the depressed men and more than half of the depressed women had vitamin D deficiencies. This leads researchers to theorize that some forms of depression can be treated by eating more foods containing more vitamin D and by increasing sun exposure. The recommended daily intake for vitamin D is 600 IU.

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