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Move Over, Happy Meal®

Some diets reduce risk of depression, studies suggest.

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Recent research shows how our dietary choices can help turn a frown upside down. In a systemic review of previous studies, researchers from University College London found evidence to suggest that adherence to certain healthy eating patterns—such as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), the Mediterranean diet, and an anti-inflammatory diet—is associated with a lower risk of depression, according to the journal Molecular Psychiatry. The reviewers deduced that the cocktail of nutrients and antioxidants in these whole food-focused eating styles likely works to improve brain function, thus reducing the person’s risk of becoming depressed.

In the European Journal of Nutrition, a separate review of research on more than 75,000 people found evidence that a diet with a lower glycemic index can ward off depression. Meals rich in whole grains, vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats naturally rank lower on the glycemic scale. On the flip side, consuming too many processed high-glycemic items like refined grains and soda can drive up blood sugar, which may endanger brain health.

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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