The Mediterranean diet improves mental health. According to Spanish researchers, the risk of suffering from depression is reduced by 30% when one adopts, even moderately, the Mediterranean diet. ￼
The Mediterranean diet, sometimes referred to as the Cretan diet, is a natural dietary practice of many peoples based around the Mediterranean such as the Greeks, Italians, French, Spaniards, Moroccans, Lebanese, etc. This diet is based on a regular and significant consumption of fruits, vegetables, cereals, fish and polyunsaturated fats found in particular in olive oil as well as a low consumption of meat, eggs, dairy products, sweets and industrialized foods. . Olive oil is the main source of fats. Alcohol is generally consumed in moderate quantities, wine is often the alcoholic beverage of first choice.
Benefits of the Mediterranean diet: 15,000 people followed for 8 years
This study was conducted on more than 15,000 people who had not been diagnosed with depression at the start of this research work. Using a questionnaire, participants should describe their eating habits. After 8.5 years, more than 1,500 participants suffered from depression, the researchers noted. The Spanish scientists found that those who followed a Mediterranean diet, or approaching this diet, suffered about 30% less depression.
Even moderately following the Mediterranean diet helps
This study showed that even an average adherence to a Mediterranean diet, that is to say allowing yourself sometimes less healthy foods, already significantly reduced the risk of depression compared to those with a low adherence to this diet. On the contrary, the Spanish scientists did not notice a big difference in the symptoms of depression between a person following this diet with average and perfect adherence.
Several explanations for the protection of the Mediterranean diet against depression
A possible explanation for the protective effect against depression would come from the fact that those following a Mediterranean diet would have an ideal level of micronutrients such as group B vitamins, folic acid or zinc, fundamental elements for brain health.
Another explanation for the protective effect of this diet could come from olive oil and nuts, two foods rich in vegetable fats and in particular in omega-3 at the base of the Mediterranean diet. Consuming more olive oil and nuts increased brain performance in seniors.
Cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer’s, cancer: the diet on all fronts
Many other studies have shown in the past significant health benefits of this diet, in particular it helps prevent cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer and even Parkinson’s disease. Awareness of the favorable effects of this diet is based on the observation after the 2nd World War of good health and a life expectancy above the average of the inhabitants of Crete, a Greek island.
Currently this diet has crossed borders, it is recommended by many doctors and nutritionists around the world, especially in the United States, a country very affected by the obesity epidemic and whose basic diet is based much more on meat and saturated fats.
Almudena Sánchez-Villegas: A longitudinal analysis of diet quality scores and the risk of incident depression in the SUN Project. BMC Medicine. volume 13, Article number: 197