Flavonoids Associated with Reduced Depression Risk

Grabbing a glass of orange juice may help you avoid feeling blue: A new study has found that a high intake of dietary flavonoids—found in citrus and other food and drinks—is associated with a reduced risk of depression in women. The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and included data from 82,643 women, ages 36 to 80, without a history of depression and who were participating in the Nurses’ Health Study I and the Nurses’ Health Study II. During a ten year follow-up period, participants answered food frequency questionnaires every two to four years, which researchers analyzed for total flavonoid intake and for intake of specific flavonoids, including flavones and proanthocyanidins, among others. Participants also reported any episodes of depression, defined as clinically-diagnosed depression or antidepressant use. At the end of ten years, a total of 10,752 cases of depression were reported. After comparing the incidence of depression with total and specific flavonoid intake, researchers found that:

  • Participants with the highest flavonoid intakes had a 7 to 10% reduced risk of depression compared with those with the lowest intakes.
  • High intake of particularly rich sources of flavonoids—citrus fruits and juices—yielded an even higher risk-reduction: Participants who consumed two or more weekly servings of citrus fruits or juices had an 18% reduced risk of depression compared with those who consumed less than one weekly serving.
  • Participants aged 75 or older with high intakes of flavones and proanthocyanidins had a 17% reduced risk of depression compared with those with low intakes.

Along with the possible mood-enhancing effects found in this study, flavonoids may provide other health benefits to be happy about. Research has associated them with improved heart health, healthy aging, and a reduced risk of diabetes. And more good news—flavonoids are found in a large variety of foods including fruits, vegetables, legumes, herbs, tea, wine, nuts, and seeds, so getting your flavonoid fix is as easy as a trip to the grocery store.

Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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