Mediterranean diet improves depression symptoms in young men, study shows

A Sydney study has shown the Mediterranean diet could help Australians with depression, particularly young men.
A small study by the University of Technology in Sydney of 72 young men found the diet helped with their depression symptoms.

A Mediterranean diet is rich in vegetables, legumes and wholegrains, oily fish, olive oil and raw unsalted nuts.

The Mediterranean diet is rich in vegetables, legumes and wholegrains. (9News)

“Young men tend to not have the best diets, so there’s lots of room for improvement there,” lead researcher Jessica Bayes said.

“The Mediterranean diet has the most evidence so far from an observational point of view.”

Men on the Mediterranean diet had three appointments with a clinical nutritionist during the 12-week trial.

Only three servings of discretionary foods such as sweets, fried food, processed meats and sugary drinks were allowed each week.

Those on the diet were compared to a control group and the results were promising.

“Those dietary changes were associated with reductions in their depressive symptoms and improvements in their overall quality of life scores,” Bayes said.

Lead researcher Jessica Bayes speaks on benefits of Mediterranean diet on mental health.
Lead researcher Jessica Bayes speaks on benefits of the Mediterranean diet on mental health. (9News)

Although the sample group was small, authors of the study said the results could help guide future research and inform treating doctors.

At least a million Australians suffer depression, with young men more hesitant to seek help for their symptoms.

“We know that young men with mental health conditions they’re much less likely to seek help for their mental health, with about 13 per cent actually seeking help,” Bayes said.

Bayes said the evidence around changing one’s diet could be a “powerful and easy” first step to help with depression.

The Mediterranean diet is rich in vegetables.
Experts advise to seek professional advice before changing their diet. (9News)

Beyond Blue lead clinical adviser Dr Grant Blashki said this research is important for addressing mental health in young men.

“It’s great to see more research into how we can help young men with depression and improving diet may be part of the mix as part of a comprehensive approach to depression management,” Blashki said.

“This study adds to growing research around the benefits of nutritional approaches, which is important because more studies are needed in this area.

“Beyond Blue recommends that people seek advice from a health professional to put in place an overall management plan including lifestyle changes like exercise and diet, psychological approaches and, in more severe cases, pharmacological treatments if required.”

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 21: A COVID-19 testing clinic sign at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital on January 21, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. NSW has recorded 46 deaths from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, marking the deadliest day in the state since the start of the pandemic. NSW also recorded 25,168 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hour reporting period. (Photo by Jenny Evans/Getty Images)

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