The ‘DASH’ diet may reduce the chances of developing depression, new research finds.
‘DASH’ stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), a diet designed to fight high blood pressure.
The DASH diet is reasonably straightforward and involves eating lots of fruit, vegetables and whole grains.
It also includes:
- fat-free or low-fat dairy products,
- and vegetable oils.
It recommends limiting intake of sugar, fatty meats, full-fat dairy, palm oil and foods high in saturated fats.
In contrast, the Western diet — what people tend to eat in the Western world — was linked to a higher rate of depression by the research.
Typically the Western diet is high in red meats and saturated fats and low in fruits and vegetables.
Dr Laurel Cherian, study author, said:
“Depression is common in older adults and more frequent in people with memory problems, vascular risk factors such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, or people who have had a stroke.
Making a lifestyle change such as changing your diet is often preferred over taking medications, so we wanted to see if diet could be an effective way to reduce the risk of depression.”
The study included 964 people who were followed for around 6 years.
The results showed that following the diet more closely was linked to an 11% reduction in depression risk.
Dr Cherian said:
“Future studies are now needed to confirm these results and to determine the best nutritional components of the DASH diet to prevent depression later in life and to best help people keep their brains healthy.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 70th Annual Meeting in Los Angeles, April 21 to 27, 2018.