Over the last few years, researchers have become more open to the idea that diet and mental health are inextricably linked. Several studies have demonstrated that connection.
As the research connecting nutrition with improved mental health, the desire for managing mental health through diet has increased. It’s not uncommon to see in chat boards, on social media, and in blog comments people asking for advice on the right foods to eat to manage their mental health.
There is no diet specifically designed for depression, but one common thread among studies linking nutrition and mental health is the importance of fresh fruits and vegetables in one’s diet. This makes sense since fresh fruits and vegetables (especially in substantial quantities and varieties) are rich in the vitamins and minerals needed for proper brain function.
Here are 6 studies that specifically connect fresh fruits and vegetable (as well as a few other healthy foods) with positive mental health:
- British researchers discovered that those who consume healthy foods (such as fresh fruit, salads, and cooked vegetables) reported less stress and fewer depression symptoms than those who didn’t eat those foods.
- American researchers reported that Black Americans who adhered more closely to the Mediterranean diet—a diet high in fruits, nuts, vegetables, legumes, cereals, olive oil, and ﬁsh consumption—had a lower cognitive decline rate.
- Australian researchers reviewed 21 studies that analyzed diet and depression, and they discovered that diets high in fruit, vegetables, fish, and whole grains had a significant association with reduced odds of depression.
- A Finnish researcher indicated that diet, especially a healthy diet rich in folate, and a dietary pattern rich in vegetables, fruits, berries, whole-grains, poultry, fish, and low-fat cheese, may protect against depression.
- Italian researchers found a possible link between following a Mediterranean diet—a diet high in fruits, nuts, vegetables, legumes, cereals, olive oil, and ﬁsh consumption—and age-related cognitive decline.
- Chinese researchers discovered a traditional Chinese diet (whole grains, fruits, vegetables, rice, and some soya products) actually lowered the risk of depression and anxiety.
These are just a handful of the dozens of studies in the last decade or so continually showing a connection between a healthy diet and a healthy mind.