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Mediterranean diet can prevent depression

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Depression is less likely in people eating a Mediterranean diet of whole grains, fruit, vegetables and nuts, research has suggested.

While studies had already shown that monounsaturated fatty acids in olive oil - often used in Mediterranean cooking - could lower severe depressive symptoms, the latest research by Spanish scientists found that those on a Mediterranean diet were 30% less likely to become depressed.

The study, led by Dr Almudena Sanchez-Villegas from the University of Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, monitored 10,000 healthy volunteers for their diets and depression levels over a six-year period.

Nine components, including consumption of fish, nuts, fruits and cereals, went into establishing who had a Mediterranean diet.

After 4.4 years, the researchers identified 480 new cases of depression affecting 156 men and 324 women. Individuals who followed the Mediterranean diet most closely were more than 30% less likely to suffer depression than those with the lowest Mediterranean diet scores.

According to the study, published in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry, elements of the Mediterranean diet are believed to improve blood vessel function, fight inflammation, reduce heart disease risk and repair damage to cells by harmful oxygen molecules. Problems in any of these areas may increase the chances of developing depression, say the researchers.

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