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Junk food not really comfort food

If you love munching on those comfort food every time you are in a bad mood, then this could be bad news for you. A research held in Spain has once again brought to the fore the ill-effects of fast food.

health and fitness Updated: Jan 31, 2011 01:31 IST

If you love munching on those comfort food every time you are in a bad mood, then this could be bad news for you. A research held in Spain has once again brought to the fore the ill-effects of fast food. Eating food high in trans-fats and saturated fats increases the risk of depression, according to a Spanish study published in the US last week. Researchers also showed 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 in Spain, followed and 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 were suffering from this condition.



Food"Participants with an elevated consumption of trans-fats 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. 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 mono-unsaturated 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."



Though not a focus of the study, researchers pointed out that deadly cardiovascular disease is "influenced in a similar manner by diet, and might share similar mechanisms in their origin." Almudena Sanchez-Villegas, associate professor of preventive medicine at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, also noted that in the event "more trans-fats were consumed, the greater the harmful effect they produced in the volunteers".

Fight the depression
Carb power Carbohydrates play role in the production of serotonin; lack of carbohydrates can lead to changes in your mood.

Go green
Dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, beans and peas are high in folate. It plays a key role in the production of serotonin. Eat fresh vegetables, because canned versions usually have lower nutritional value. Legumes are also rich in folate.

Iron alert
Chickpeas are rich in iron, vitamin E and fibre. To prepare a simple snack, mix a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas with some minced garlic, fresh lemon juice, and olive or canola oil in your blender. You can add salt, pepper or other spices that you prefer.

Meat matters
Chicken and turkey are both rich in vitamin B6, which also plays an important role in serotonin production.