Coffee and tea may reduce lifetime depression

Researchers in Korea recently published a study in the peer-reviewed journal Nutrients, showing a connection between lifetime depression and tea and coffee consumption.

The researchers analyzed the dietary habits and depression scores of over 9.500 adults 19 years old and older. Dietary habits included consumption of the following foods:

  • Green tea
  • Coffee
  • 12 vegetable items
  • 11 fruit items
  • 4 meat items
  • 9 fish items

What researchers discovered was that participants who drank tea the most “had 21% lower prevalence of depression” compared to those who didn’t drink tea. As well, participants who drank coffee the most “had 32% lower prevalence of depression”.

In fact, the more participants drank tea or coffee, the more the prevalence of depression decreased.

They also found that frequent tea drinkers were more likely to exercise than non-tea-drinkers and consumed higher amounts of vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, and coffee. Likewise, frequent coffee drinkers were more likely to to consume higher amounts of vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, and tea than non-coffee-drinkers.

Now. on the surface, it may seem that living a generally healthier lifestyle—as these tea and coffee drinkers seemed to be doing—may contribute to better mental health, but these researchers accounted for that in their analysis:

Frequent green tea consumers had 21% lower prevalence of depression than green tea non-consumers after adjustment for the potential confounders of age, sex, BMI, income level, education level, alcohol intake, smoking status, physical activity, and the intakes of energy, vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, and coffee.

In other words, other lifestyle aspects didn’t seem to affect the connection between coffee and tea consumption and depression levels. It may be more than just fruits and vegetables that can provide us with positive mental health.

This is one more study in a growing body of research showing a connection between what we eat and our mental health. Here at Truehope, we’ve been promoting nutrition as mental health treatment for over 25 years.