A Narrative Review of the Association Between Healthy Dietary Patterns and Depression

Year Published: 2024




Xeni A Apostolakopoulou 1 , Efthimia Petinaki 2 , Andreas N Kapsoritakis 3 , Konstantinos Bonotis


The purpose of the present review is the investigation of healthy dietary patterns and diet quality in relation to depression risk. Nutritional psychiatry is to develop scientifically based research that defines the role of nutrition and nutrients in various aspects of mental health. Growing evidence from the field suggests that diet may play an important role in the prevention and/or treatment of depression. In contrast, there is evidence that unhealthy diets may increase the risk of depression.

Key Findings

Key Findings: This emerging research suggests that dietary interventions could help prevent depression or be an alternative or adjunctive therapy for depression. The Mediterranean diet (MedDiet), the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, and the vegetarian diet are examined in this review. The electronic databases PubMed, Scopus, and Google Scholar were searched for relevant studies published during the last five years. We found many results that support that healthy eating patterns (high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and fish, low in processed foods) are related to a reduction in the risk of depression. The most robust findings are related to MedDiet, where we also found several positive results for the DASH diet. Regarding the vegetarian diet, there are inconsistent reports. Furthermore, a consistent finding refers to a lower Dietary Inflammatory Index (DII) as associated with a lower depression risk. It has been observed that people suffering from depression have poorer nutritional quality, with lower fruit and vegetable intake. This observation may strengthen the argument that nutritional interventions should be incorporated as an important "pillar" in the multifactorial treatment of patients. However, more well-designed studies are needed to establish the relationship between dietary patterns and mental health. In particular, interventional, longitudinal studies could be more enlightening.