The Mediterranean Diet—Including a Daily Glass of Wine—May Lower Risk of Depression

A new study finds that the healthy diet can lessen the risk of depression, perhaps due to less inflammation in the nervous system
The Mediterranean Diet—Including a Daily Glass of Wine—May Lower Risk of Depression
A Mediterranean diet, even when not consumed near the Mediterranean, can protect mental health. (istockphotos)
Nov 28, 2018

For decades now, researchers have found evidence that the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, legumes, seafood, olive oil and moderate wine consumption, while limiting meat and dairy products, may help protect your body from heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and more. Now comes evidence it may protect your mind too. In a meta-analysis published Sept. 28 in Molecular Psychiatry, a team of U.K.–based researchers found that people who adhere to the diet were 33 percent less likely to develop depressive symptoms or clinical depression.

"A bad or unhealthy diet is responsible for so many other diseases, so you can't go wrong by advising patients to reduce processed foods and try to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into the diet," said lead author Dr. Camille Lassale, an associate in the Research Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London, in a statement.

For the analysis, Lassale and her team analyzed 41 studies using data from multiple countries that examined dietary habits and health. The researchers included only studies that accounted for lifestyle factors that could affect depression, such as smoking, physical inactivity and high body-mass index. The studies employed various measurements of dietary habits, such as the Mediterranean Diet Score (MDS), which tracks nine habits, including consumption of beneficial foods (such as fruit, vegetable, legumes, cereals and fish), detrimental foods (meat and dairy products) and alcohol in moderation.

Another diet looked at by the studies was the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, which puts an emphasis on vegetables, fruits, whole grains and low-fat dairy products and also prescribes limiting consumption of saturated and total fat, but neither prescribes nor prohibits alcohol consumption. The team also tracked the health of people who had what they call a "pro-inflammatory diet." Lassale explained that pro-inflammatory foods include those that are high in trans fat, saturated fat, refined sugar, and "everything that is overly processed."

The authors concluded that of the diets, the Mediterranean diet showed the clearest link to a lower risk of depression. "Our review shows that there is observational evidence to suggest that both adhering to a healthy diet, in particular a traditional Mediterranean diet, and avoiding a pro-inflammatory diet is associated with reduced risk of depressive symptoms or clinical depression," the authors write.

While they could not pinpoint the reason for the lower risk of depression, they theorize it is because a Mediterranean diet is filled with foods (and drink) that lower inflammation. Depression has been linked to inflammation in the brain and nervous system. They caution, however, that there is not enough data to show whether a healthy diet leads to lower risk of depression, or if people who suffer from depression then eat a less healthy diet. (And it's important to remember that over-consumption of alcohol is often a symptom of depression.) The researchers call for further study.


Want to learn more about how wine can be part of a healthy lifestyle? Sign up for Wine Spectator's free Wine & Healthy Living e-mail newsletter and get the latest health news, feel-good recipes, wellness tips and more delivered straight to your inbox every other week!

Health Brain Health / Memory Diet / Weight News

You Might Also Like

SingleThread Farms Premieres Rooftop Wine Bar and Kistler Dinner Series Collaboration

SingleThread Farms Premieres Rooftop Wine Bar and Kistler Dinner Series Collaboration

The Sonoma restaurant unveils two new formats for serving guests while its dining room is …

Aug 13, 2020
No Relief for U.S. Wine Consumers—Trump Administration Keeps Tariffs on European Wines in Place

No Relief for U.S. Wine Consumers—Trump Administration Keeps Tariffs on European Wines in Place

Trade Representative says 25 percent duties will remain in place for most French, Spanish …

Aug 13, 2020
Charting a Path Forward: A Live Chat with Mac McDonald

Charting a Path Forward: A Live Chat with Mac McDonald

The pioneering Vision Cellars owner and winemaker opens up about his journey from East …

Aug 11, 2020
Young Owners of Le Clos du Caillou Expand in Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Young Owners of Le Clos du Caillou Expand in Châteauneuf-du-Pape

The Vacheron family has purchased Domaine de Panisse and 33 acres of prime vineyards

Aug 10, 2020
Leading Vintners in Châteauneuf-du-Pape Make Two Big Acquisitions

Leading Vintners in Châteauneuf-du-Pape Make Two Big Acquisitions

The Guigal family has purchased Domaine Les Clefs d'Or in Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe, while the …

Aug 6, 2020
Leading from the Top: A Live Chat with Carlton McCoy

Leading from the Top: A Live Chat with Carlton McCoy

The CEO of Napa's Heitz Cellar talks about his incredible journey from high-school dropout …

Aug 6, 2020