Mediterranean Diet Could Be a Stress-Buster, Study Finds

The Mediterranean diet has already been shown to be great for a person’s physical health, but new research finds that following the Mediterranean diet also can lift your mood.

People on the diet tended to have lower levels of anxiety and stress, researchers reported recently in the journal Nutrients.

“It’s a big tick for the Mediterranean diet,” said researcher Evangeline Mantzioris, with the University of South Australia. “Through a relatively easy lifestyle change, people can markedly improve their stress and anxiety levels. Who wouldn’t want to give it a go?”

The Mediterranean diet involves plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, legumes and olive oil, researchers said.

Fish and seafood should be eaten at least twice a week, and dairy and lean proteins eaten daily in smaller portions. The diet encourages minimal consumption of red meats and processed foods and cutting out sugary beverages.

For this study, researchers surveyed nearly 300 Australians aged 60 and older regarding their diet and their symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress.

People who ate in ways that closely tracked a Mediterranean diet had lower levels of stress and anxiety, even after researchers accounted for other factors.

The researchers also found that specific elements of a Mediterranean diet — fruit, nuts, legumes and low consumption of sugary beverages — were associated with less stress and anxiety.

No association was found between the diet and depression, however.

“Globally, we’re facing an unprecedented aging population, yet despite this longevity, many people continue to struggle with their health and well-being,” Mantzioris said.

“Lifestyle behaviors, including diet quality, are gaining more attention as modifiable risk factors for poor mental health, with the Mediterranean diet endorsed for reducing chronic disease risk and supporting healthy aging,” Mantzioris said.

More information

Harvard Medical School has more about the Mediterranean Diet.

SOURCE: University of South Australia, news release, May 14, 2024

Source: HealthDay

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