Eating a Mediterranean diet may help prevent depression, research suggests. But an expert in metabolic medicine says more rigorous, targeted trials are needed to confirm evidence of the potential link. The findings, in Molecular Psychiatry, come from a review of 41 studies published within the last eight years.
A plant-based diet of fruit, veg, grains, fish, nuts and olive oil – but not too much meat or dairy – appeared to have benefits in terms of mood.
Experts say trials are now needed to test the theory and to learn whether depression can be treated with diet.
Why are Mediterranean diets so healthy?
Dr Camille Lasalle, who carried out the analysis with colleagues at University College London, said the evidence so far pointed to the idea that the foods we eat can make a difference in lowering our risk of depression, even though there is no solid clinical proof yet.
Explaining the link between mood and food is tricky. There are lots of other factors that may be involved.
Being depressed can cause loss of appetite, and someone who is feeling low might not look after themselves so well
Happy people may be more likely to lead healthier lifestyles (not drinking too much alcohol – a known mood depressant)
It might be that eating bad foods – lots of sugar and highly processed foods – increases the risk of depression, meaning eliminating these from your diet is important
Without tightly controlled trials, it is unclear how big an impact following a Mediterranean diet might have.