Chalk up another one for the Mediterranean diet. Research has already linked it to improved cardiovascular health, a reduced risk of diabetes and increased longevity, but it seems that list of achievements just isn’t enough for this healthy eating pattern.
A recent study out of Deakin University in Melbourne looked at patients with severe depressive disorders who were put on a Mediterranean style diet and found that after 12 weeks, one third of the participants reported a significant improvement in their symptoms and mood. This was a big jump compared to another group of participants who did not change their diet, but were placed in a social support group. Of this group, only 8 percent saw a significant improvement in symptoms.
The researchers were quick to point out that diet was not intended as a replacement for traditional treatments, with many of the study participants also receiving psychotherapy or pharmacology treatment. Having said this, it does show that dietary interventions have significant potential to act as a support to other interventions designed to help depression.
The study’s lead author Professor Felice Jacka sees a significant place for nutrition to play in treating depressive illnesses. “It’s not a stretch to consider that people coming to a doctor with depression might have a referral to a clinical dietician”.
With the ever increasing links being found between diet and every area of health, there might come a time when any person who’s seen their doctor and doesn’t get a referral to a clinical dietitian will seem out of place.
Mediterranean diet makes liberal use of herbs and spices to flavour foods instead of salt. So make sure to reach for these before the salt shaker when cooking.
So how do you give your diet a mediterranean makeover?
Get plenty of veggies
Aim for at least 5 servings of vegetables a day. Make sure you have a range of different vegetables daily.
Try our Vegetable recipe collection.
Don’t be scared of good fats
Olive oil and nuts are both regularly included as part of traditional Mediterranean diets.
A small handful of nuts and a couple of tablespoons of olive oil a day can have a place in a healthy diet.
Try our Nuts recipe collection.
Don’t forget your legumes
Lentils, broad beans, chickpeas - the list goes on. Make sure you get the goodness of legumes regularly in your diet.
Try our Legumes recipe collection.
Ease off the animals
If you choose to eat meat or poultry, eat it sparingly. Pack those meals with plants.