How eating a Mediterranean diet can improve your mental health

New research has shown that a Mediterranean diet could help to stave off depression.

Healthy Mediterranean food

The health benefits of a Mediterranean diet have long been known, but new research published in the journal of Molecular Psychiatry suggests that eating a Mediterranean diet can help to prevent depression.

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The journal reviewed 41 studies carried out over the last eight years and that a classic Mediterranean diet rich in vegetables, grains, fruit, olive oil and nuts was beneficial. Those consuming the diet also ate very little dairy or meat.

Chocolate orange body butter

While more research is needed, the evidence so far is promising.

Previous research has shown that a Mediterranean diet can help to protect the brain against conditions such as Alzheimer’s.

Read on to learn more about the benefits of eating like an Italian.

Mediterranean diet

What are the benefits of a Mediterranean diet?

A traditional Mediterranean diet has been shown to help a range of health conditions. It can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, lowers cholesterol and stops you from developing high blood pressure. It can even help you maintain a healthy weight and may make you live longer.

Crucially, the diet is high in healthy fat, particularly the monounsaturated fats found in olive oil.

Including fish in your diet means you’ll be getting plenty of omega-3 oils too – which are essential for brain health. Omega-3 is also a known mood-booster.

Fresh pizza

What foods form part of a Mediterranean diet?

A Mediterranean diet typically contains the following foods:

  • Tomatoes and fresh veg
  • Olives and olive oil
  • White meat (such as chicken)
  • Fish
  • Whole grains (even pasta can be wholegrain)
  • Fresh fruit
  • Plenty of starchy foods (bread and pasta)
  • Less red meat

5 Mediterranean recipes to make at home

Try these healthy – and delicious – recipes from our sister magazine, Olive.

Broccoli frittata
Image courtesy of Olive Magazine

This filling broccoli and red pepper frittata is packed with antioxidants – it’s a great way to use up leftovers too.

Image courtesy of Olive Magazine
Image courtesy of Olive Magazine

The spicy merguez in this tomatoey tray helps to add a real depth of flavour – perfect for a chilly winter day.

Courgette carbonara
Image courtesy of Olive magazine

This tasty recipe is a great way to use up a summer glut of veg – it’s quick to make when you’re in a hurry too.

Rosemary focaccia
Image courtesy of Olive magazine

No Italian meal would be complete without focaccia bread – add some fragrant rosemary and some healthy olive oil for best results.

Grilled nectarines
Image courtesy of Olive magazine

This recipe has it all – it’s sweet, creamy and has just a kick of chilli. It’s a great dinner party starter – or you could turn it into a salad.

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Photos by Carissa Gan, Monika Grabkowska and Nadya Spetnitskaya on Unsplash