People often alter their diet in an effort to change their physical appearance, but what you put into your body can have just as big of an effect on your mental health as your physical health, according to a new study published in Molecular Psychiatry.
Armed with the knowledge that nutrition plays an important role in a person's mental health, the researchers sought to identify the best possible diet for psychological well-being. After systemically reviewing 41 articles on diet and mental health (including 20 longitudinal and 21 cross-sectional studies), the researchers ultimately identified the Mediterranean diet as the best possible eating plan for mental health and wellness.
"Adhering to a healthy diet, in particular a traditional Mediterranean diet, or avoiding a pro-inflammatory diet appears to confer some protection against depression in observational studies," reads the study conclusion. "Further well-powered clinical trials are required to assess the role of dietary patterns in the prevention of onset, severity, and recurrence of depressive episodes," add the researchers.
For the uninitiated, the Mediterranean diet calls for plenty of nuts, beans, vegetables, whole grains, fish, poultry, and healthy fats like olive oil and feta cheese. It has claimed the top spot on the US News & World Report's list of healthiest overall diets for several years running, tying with the DASH diet for first place in 2017. Mental health benefits aside, the diet has also been linked to healthy weight management, a decreased risk of heart disease, a longer lifespan, and protection against age-related cognitive decline. In other words, it's a great choice whether you're concerned about your mental well-being or not.
Head over to Molecular Psychiatry for the full study, and shop our Mediterranean diet essentials below to try the diet yourself.