Eating More Fruit May Lower Depression Risk in Adults Over 45, Study Finds.


New research reveals higher fruit intake is linked to diminished depression risk in adults over 45. Explore how diet can impact mental health.

Eating fruit could be key to reducing the risk of depression, especially in adults aged 45 and over, according to a recent study presented at the European Congress on Obesity (ECO) and published in the Journal of Affective Disorders. This study adds to the growing evidence that dietary behaviors, particularly high intake of fruit and vegetables, play a crucial role in mental health.

The research was led by Postdoctoral Fellow Annabel Matison from the University of New South Wales Sydney’s (UNSW) Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA). The study aimed to examine the association between fruit and vegetable intake and depression in adults aged 45 and older. Participants included 7,801 community-based adults without depression from multiple regions across six continents, including the United States, Sweden, Brazil, Nigeria, Malaysia, and Australia.

The study revealed a significant association between higher fruit consumption and a lower risk of depression over a nine-year period. Although a beneficial relationship between vegetable intake and reduced depression risk was also suggested, it was not statistically significant.

Table 1: Association Between Fruit Intake and Depression Risk

Table 2: Association Between Vegetable Intake and Depression Risk

The high levels of antioxidants, dietary fiber, and vitamins in fruits and vegetables are thought to influence depression positively. These nutrients may help reduce inflammation, oxidative stress, and support a healthy gut microbiota, which are mechanisms linked to lower depression risk. The study found particularly strong evidence for citrus fruits and green leafy vegetables being associated with a lower risk of depression.

Table 3: Nutrient Profiles of Selected Fruits and Vegetables

Professor Henry Brodaty, co-author and CHeBA co-director, emphasized the need for more research focusing on different types of fruit and vegetable consumption, especially in low- and middle-income countries. He suggests that current research on the genetic factors influencing dietary intake could further clarify the relationship between diet and depression.

This study highlights the importance of diet in managing mental health, particularly for older adults. The protective association between fruit intake and reduced depression risk suggests that increasing fruit consumption could be a valuable strategy in mental health care.

Table 4: Depression Prevalence and Treatment

Recommendations

  1. Increase Fruit Intake: Aim to include a variety of fruits in daily meals.
  2. Focus on Raw Vegetables: Whenever possible, consume vegetables raw to retain nutrients.
  3. Public Health Policies: Encourage policies that promote fruit and vegetable consumption, especially in older populations.

By adopting these dietary changes, individuals can potentially improve their mental health and overall well-being.

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