In November 2018, researchers in Australia published a study in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience, showing a connection between the Mediterranean diet and mood.
The researchers recruited 41 participants 45 years old and older, who they then split into two groups: those eating a Mediterranean diet and those eating a low-fat diet. After 8 weeks, each group took an 8-week washout period, then tried the other diet for an additional 8 weeks. Researchers tracked processing speed, mood disturbance, tension, depression, anger, and confusion during the study.
What they discovered was that those who followed the Mediterranean diet saw significant improvements in processing speed, mood disturbance, tension, depression, anger, and confusion.
What is the Mediterranean diet?
A 2003 study defined the traditional Mediterranean diet as follows:
- High intake of vegetables, legumes, fruits and nuts, and cereals
- High intake of olive oil
- Low intake of saturated fats
- Moderately high intake of fish (depending on sea proximity)
- Low-to-moderate intake of dairy products (mostly in the form of cheese or yogurt)
- Low intake of meat and poultry
- Regular but moderate intake of ethanol (primarily wine and generally during meals)
In this study, however, the Mediterranean diet was supplemented with 3–4 daily servings of dairy foods each day.
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 20 years.