A healthy diet including plenty of folates is linked to lower depression risk, research finds.
Folates include vitamin B9, folacin and folic acid.
Some of the best dietary sources of folates include:
- and whole-grains.
Folate levels are particularly high in chickpeas, yeast extract, lentils and broad beans.
Losing weight is also linked to a lower risk of depression.
In contrast, eating junk food, sugar and processed foods was linked to increased depression risk by the study.
People who ate more foods like sausages, sugary snacks and drinks, manufactured foods and processed potatoes had higher depression risk.
The conclusion comes from a Finnish study of over 2,000 middle-aged men.
They were tracked for up to 20 years while their diet and mental health was monitored.
In another related study, 140 men and women were assigned to one of two groups.
One group ate a healthy diet while the other continued as normal.
The results again showed that a healthy diet including higher intake of vegetables, fruits, whole-grains and fish was linked to lower depression risk.
Increased intake of folates is particularly important.
Dr Anu Ruusunen, the study’s author, said:
“The study reinforces the hypothesis that a healthy diet has potential not only in the warding off of depression, but also in its prevention.”
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, 2003) 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 studies were published by the University of Eastern Finland (Ruusunen et al., 2013).