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Depressing diet

health and fitness Updated: Feb 07, 2011 01:46 IST
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Feeling gloomy for no reason ? Blame it on all the junk food you gorge on. Eating foods high in trans-fats and saturated fats increases the risk of depression, says a new Spanish study.

Research also shows that some products, such as olive oil, which is high in healthy omega-9 fatty acids, can fight against the risk of mental illness.

Authors of the wide-reaching study, from the universities of Navarra and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, analysed the diet and lifestyle of over 12,000 volunteers over six years. When the study began, none of the participants had been diagnosed with depression; by the end, 657 of them were new sufferers.

“Participants with an elevated consumption of trans-fats (fats present in artificial form in industrially-produced pastries and fast food) presented up to a 48% increase in the risk of depression when they were compared to participants who did not consume these fats,” the study said.

Almudena Sanchez-Villegas, associate professor of preventive medicine at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, also noted that in the event, “more the trans-fats consumed, greater the harmful effect they produced in the volunteers.” The research team found, at the same time, that after assessing the impact of polyunsaturated fats — composed of larger amounts of fish and vegetable oils — and olive oil, these products “are associated with a lower risk of suffering depression.”

The report pointed out that the current number of depression sufferers in the world is around 150 million, and has increased in recent years.

This rise is attributable, according to the authors, “to radical changes in the sources of fats consumed in Western diets, where we have substituted certain types of beneficial fats — polyunsaturated and monounsaturated in nuts, vegetable oils and fish — for the saturated and trans-fats found in meats, butter and other products such as mass-produced pastries and fast food.”