October 07, 2009

Mediterranean diet and risk of depression

Archives of General Psychiatry Vol. 66 No. 10, October 2009

Association of the Mediterranean Dietary Pattern With the Incidence of Depression

Almudena Sánchez-Villegas et al.


Context Adherence to the Mediterranean dietary pattern (MDP) is thought to reduce inflammatory, vascular, and metabolic processes that may be involved in the risk of clinical depression.

Objective To assess the association between adherence to the MDP and the incidence of clinical depression.

Design Prospective study that uses a validated 136-item food frequency questionnaire to assess adherence to the MDP. The MDP score positively weighted the consumption of vegetables, fruit and nuts, cereal, legumes, and fish; the monounsaturated- to saturated-fatty-acids ratio; and moderate alcohol consumption, whereas meat or meat products and whole-fat dairy were negatively weighted.

Setting A dynamic cohort of university graduates (Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra/University of Navarra Follow-up [SUN] Project).

Participants A total of 10 094 initially healthy Spanish participants from the SUN Project participated in the study. Recruitment began on December 21, 1999, and is ongoing.

Main Outcome Measure Participants were classified as having incident depression if they were free of depression and antidepressant medication at baseline and reported a physician-made diagnosis of clinical depression and/or antidepressant medication use during follow-up.

Results After a median follow-up of 4.4 years, 480 new cases of depression were identified. The multiple adjusted hazard ratios (95% confidence intervals) of depression for the 4 upper successive categories of adherence to the MDP (taking the category of lowest adherence as reference) were 0.74 (0.57-0.98), 0.66 (0.50-0.86), 0.49 (0.36-0.67), and 0.58 (0.44-0.77) (P for trend <.001). Inverse dose-response relationships were found for fruit and nuts, the monounsaturated- to saturated-fatty-acids ratio, and legumes.

Conclusions Our results suggest a potential protective role of the MDP with regard to the prevention of depressive disorders; additional longitudinal studies and trials are needed to confirm these findings.



benwl said...

Interesting post you got there!

checkout my post about low residue diet:


THE_TRUTH said...

An interesting article. But, I have to ask why so many Greeks and Italians suffer from depression ? In fact depression is a major problem throughout the mediterranean, even with the higher level of sunlight hours.

Unknown said...

I'd like to see some studies done on the Mediterranean (and other) diet(s) with the ethnic/racial background of the participants kept in mind.

What I wonder is, for instance, would the Mediterranean diet (which is a very tasty one in my opinion, btw!) really reduce depression for, say, Irish people who have been consuming dairy products and meat for something like, what?, 6000+ years. You think we'd be well adapted to it by now.

Maybe the Mediterranean diet works really well for, you know, Mediterranean peoples -- and other diets might be suitable for other peoples.

THE_TRUTH said...

J, would you say diet is the reason for low suicide rates in Greece, Israel and other Med countries, or is the real reason family structure, that strong communication culture which does not encourage excessive competition amongst siblings, and reinforces the responsibility of the family to care for the elderly ?

Are family meals more important than food.

J said...


I dont know. Possibly. I just pointed out a well-known fact.

Judith Weingarten said...

Aren't they being a little circular in their reasoning? People who are getting depressed are more likely to devour comfort food (and hit the bottle) than medicate themselves at the salad bar. Or, as a friend just said, "...the idea of someone like Bessy Smith singing 'I was so blue I had to eat a tomato', has its charm."

THE_TRUTH said...

Look at Japan, which has a healthier diet than the med diet, full of fish based omega 3, low in saturated fat, and full of vegetables. Yet, Japan has amongst the highest suicide rates in the world. Japan also has one of the most rigid social systems in the world, with little inner-family communication, or support.

Let me add, that, besides Okinawa, Japan has a terrible problem with mental health. The difference, is that it is hidden.

THE_TRUTH said...

Let me add one last point. The med diet may be beneficial for cardiovascular disease, but obesity rates amongst affluent populations throughout the med, is staggering. In line with this obesity problem, is also found high cancer rates related to excessive fatness. This is especially so in females, - breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and reproductive cancers, and fibroids, which are more likely hood is a result of the high blood serum oestrogen levels, resulting from excessive adipocyte aromatization.