Processed Foods Increases Risk for Depression


A new study just came out and The University College London team found that by eating more fruits and vegetables and less process foods, people could reduce their risk of depression. The UK team studied the diets of over 3,500 middle-aged people. The team said the study was the first to look at the UK diet and depression.

Researchers split the participants into two types of diet - those who ate a diet largely based on whole foods, which includes lots of fruit, vegetables and fish, and those who ate a mainly processed food diet, such as sweetened desserts, fried food, processed meat, refined grains and high-fat dairy products.

After looking at factors such as gender, age, education, physical activity, smoking habits and chronic diseases, they found a significant difference in future depression risk with the different diets. In fact, those who ate the most whole foods had a 26% lower risk of future depression than those who at the least whole foods. By contrast people with a diet high in processed food had a 58% higher risk of depression than those who ate very few processed foods.


The research is concluding what so many people seem to already know, that what we eat can affect our mood, making us feel happier. A number of people who suffer from depression, for example, improve significantly when they eat less processed/sugary foods and consume more complex carbohydrates, such as grains and vegetables. A healthy diet may reduce brain inflammation, important for improving neuron functions and reducing anxiety and depression.

The researchers suggested several reasons for the protective effects of a healthy diet against depression, from the high levels of anti-oxidants in fruits and vegetables, including folate found in broccoli, cabbage, spinach, lentils and chickpeas. Eating more fish may be protective due to high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Dr Andrew McCulloch, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation states “This study adds to an existing body of solid research that shows the strong links between what we eat and our mental health. Major studies like this are crucial because they hold the key to us better understanding mental illness.”

Margaret Edwards, Head Of Strategy at the mental health charity SANE, said; “Physical and mental health are closely related, so we should not be too surprised by these results, but we hope there will be further research which may help us to understand more fully the relationship between diet and mental health.”

Written by Tyler Woods Ph.D.
Tucson, Arizona
Exclusive to eMaxHealth