In Lockdown: A Mediterranean diet ‘could help reduce depression’ – here are 6 mood-boosting meals to try

By Liz Connor. Published 2020-09-27
Research has found that eating a coastal diet cuts the risk of depression by reducing inflammation in the body

It’ll come as no surprise that eating a diet rich in fruit, veg, nuts and fish is good for you, but new research now suggests that eating a Mediterranean diet could even help prevent depression.

According to a study published in journal Molecular Psychiatry, following such a diet may cut the risk of developing the condition by around a third.

Dr Camille Lasalle, part of the University College London team who analysed data from 41 different food studies, says there is “compelling evidence” to show that the quality of your diet can affect your mental health, with the Mediterranean diet coming out top for its mood-boosting benefits.

“There is a clear pattern that following a healthier, plant-rich, anti-inflammatory diet can help in the prevention of depression,” she says.

Generally speaking, the diet incorporates the traditional healthy living habits of people from countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, including France, Greece, Italy and Spain.

It’s usually high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil. It varies from country to country, but often includes a low intake of meat and dairy, and avoids processed foods – which researchers say can make depression worse.

As well as links with improving mood, research into the traditional Mediterranean diet has shown it may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and raised cholesterol.

Although we live a long way from the lapping shores of the Mediterranean, it’s still possible to reap the benefits of a coastal diet at home. Here are a few healthy meals ideas you could try to make this week…

Spanish-style potatoes and tuna on a bed salad and green beans

Fresh herb and tomato salad

Grilled halloumi, roasted asparagus and courgette with fresh tomatoes with feta

Mussel piccata with chickpea spaghetti

Greens topped with fallafel and red pepper tahini

One of my favourite's Sardines on toast