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Mediterranean diet helps fight common symptoms of depression, research finds

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(Image credit: FabQuality via Amazon)

As World Mental Health day encourages us to look after our minds as well as our bodies, new evidence has emerged suggesting that adopting a Mediterranean-style diet can help lessen common symptoms of depression in adults.

Peer-reviewed scientific journal PLOS ONE has published the findings of a randomized control trial from Australia, which tracked and compared the moods of young adults following different diets over a three week period.

One group ate Mediterranean-inspired meals, which typically feature lots of fresh fruit, veggies, and other healthy foods. The other consumed a more stereotypically 'Western' diet, complete with refined carbohydrates, processed foods, and plenty of sugar.

The cohort that adopted the Mediterranean regime saw their depression scores drop from the 'moderate' to 'normal' range, as measured by the study's methodology, while those who dined on the less healthy diet still experienced depression symptoms of 'moderate severity'.

As well as lowering feelings of depression, reduced levels of stress and anxiety were also reported by the healthy eaters – a benefit not even the best online diet services will promise to match.

Out with the old, in with the new you 

Researcher Heather Francis, a lecturer in clinical neuropsychology at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia who helped lead the research, noted that those "who had a greater increase in fruit and vegetable intake showed the greatest improvement in depression symptoms."

"We were quite surprised by the findings. I think the next step is to demonstrate the physiological mechanism underlying how diet can improve depression symptoms," she said.

If you think some healthy eating would do you good, the Mediterranean diet adopted by the 'healthy' group in the trial consisted of three servings each of whole grains, unsweetened dairy products, and lean protein per day. It was complemented by three servings of fish and an additional six servings of fruit and veg each week.

Worried that going all-in with a Med diet might leave you missing the greasy comforts offered by the best deep fryers

If it fits your budget, we'd recommend investing in some good quality kitchen gear to help you maximise the natural goodness of fresh produce – the best juicers and best food steamers are two good places to start.

With a bit of luck, you'll have forgotten all about the buffalo wings in no time at all. 

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