Pasta, an Integral Part of the Mediterranean Diet, May Help Lower Risk of Depression
If you’re like most people, you likely already know that following the Mediterranean Diet can have countless health benefits, including better brain health, reduced risk of breast cancer, healthier body weight, and lower risk of heart disease. Now you can add another health benefit to the list of reasons why you should switch to the Mediterranean diet — lower risk of depression. While more and more science shows a healthy diet can help alleviate depression, recent research shows the Mediterranean Diet may have an edge even over other healthy diets. Last year, a study evaluated 41 observational studies looking at the adherence to the Mediterranean diet, the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) and Alternative HEI (AHEI), the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, and the Dietary Inflammatory Index related to symptoms of depression. The most compelling evidence was found for the Mediterranean diet and incident depression. Just recently, a study presented at the American Psychiatric Association annual meeting in May found that adherence to the Mediterranean Diet can help prevent depression in old age.
In this research, scientists in Greece studied 154 older adults living in Athens and screened them for depressive symptoms, sleep disturbances, and adherence to the Mediterranean diet. They found 75% of participants screening negative for depression symptoms, 70% having no sleeping issues, and 64% of which moderately adhered to the Mediterranean diet. Furthermore, through statistical analysis they estimated that for every additional unit increase in the consumption of vegetables, the likelihood of developing depression dropped by 20%.
The Mediterranean diet is characterized by abundant plant foods including fruits, veggies, whole grains, pasta, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, olive oil and high amounts of seafood, with dairy eaten in moderation. Plant-foods, in particular, have been associated with decreased risk of depression. Because this diet is comprised of so many healthy foods, it is likely that the healthy nutrients positively affect mood. It is also likely that the high amount of anti-inflammatory foods in the Mediterranean diet could be helping to avoid depression, as a recent study linked increased inflammation to depression.
If you haven’t yet, start following the Mediterranean diet today! Pasta makes it easy to make a healthy Mediterranean based meal by acting as the perfect base for other plant based foods and seafood. Find a healthy pasta dish from our recipes here.
For more information about the Mediterranean diet, click here.