Mediterranean diet may improve mood

Dutch and Australian researchers recently published a study in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology, showing a connection between the Mediterranean diet and mood.

They randomly assigned the 53 participants (all women between the ages of 18 and 38) to one of two groups: a control group and a group participating in the Mediterranean diet.

During the first visit, researchers measured food consumption, alertness, calmness, contentedness, anxiety, anger, fatigue, vigour, and confusion. Over the next 10 days, participants recorded their daily food intake. Researchers repeated their initial tests on day 5 and at the end of the trial.

What is the Mediterranean diet?

The researchers cited a 2003 study that 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)


What they discovered was that the participants in the Mediterranean diet group had lower scores between the first and last days for anxiety, anger, fatigue, alertness, contentedness, and confusion. Total mood disturbances was also lower. In addition, vigour and activity scores were higher.

The control group, on the other hand, showed no significant change in any measures.

This study joins a growing body of research showing a strong connection between nutrition and mental health. Here at Truehope, we’ve been promoting nutrition as mental health treatment for over 20 years.