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DASH Diet May Help Reduce Depression Risk in Late Life

We’ve all heard that you are what you eat, but have you considered this might apply to your mood as well as your body? According to a preliminary study, eating patterns that closely matched the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) guidelines were associated with reduced depression rates in older adults. The abstract was released by the American Academy of Neurology to be presented at their 70th annual meeting. At the beginning of the study and during annual checkups for more than six years, the 964 participants, average age 81, completed food-frequency questionnaires, which the researchers used to determine how closely their diets matched certain dietary patterns, including the DASH diet and a typical Western diet. During the checkups, researchers also evaluated participants for depressive symptoms on a ten-item version of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale. Depression was defined as having four or more of the ten symptoms on the scale. At the end of the study, researchers discovered:

  • Having an eating pattern that resembled the DASH guidelines appeared to have a protective effect against depression.
  • The risk of depression for those whose diets most closely resembled DASH recommendations was 11% lower than for those whose diets least resembled DASH.
  • Following a Western diet was associated with a higher risk of depression over time.

What’s so special about the DASH diet? Its focus on high intakes of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and low intakes of saturated fats and sugar, might be the key. A typical Western diet, in contrast, is high in meat and saturated fats, and low in fruits and vegetables. So, while more research is needed to understand exactly which components of these diets might affect your mood, the clear differences between the two help clue us in to which foods could be good mood foods.

Source: American Academy of Neurology

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Information expires December 2018.

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