Nut consumption is associated with a lower risk of depression in adults: A prospective analysis with data from the UK Biobank cohort

Year Published: 2023


Clinical Nutrition


Bruno Bizzozero-Peroni a b, Rubén Fernández-Rodríguez a, Vicente Martínez-Vizcaíno a c, Miriam Garrido-Miguel a d, María Medrano e f, Estela Jiménez-López a g, Arthur Eumann Mesas a h


Background & aims Evidence on the association between nut consumption and depression is mainly based on cross-sectional studies. This study aims to analyse whether nut consumption is prospectively associated with the risk of depression in adults. Methods This study was conducted using the United Kingdom (UK) Biobank resource. Data from middle-aged and older UK adults who participated in this cohort between 2007–2012 (baseline) and 2013–2020 (follow-up) were analysed. Baseline information on nut consumption was obtained with the Oxford WebQ 24-h questionnaire. Depression, defined as a self-reported physician diagnosis of depression or antidepressant use, was assessed at baseline and follow-up. Hazard regression models estimating the predictive ability of nut consumption for the risk of developing depression were adjusted for sociodemographic, lifestyle, and health confounders.

Key Findings

Key Findings: Results A total of 13,504 participants (mean age 57.5 ± 7.2 years, 50.7% female) free of depression at baseline were included in the analyses. After a mean follow-up of 5.3 ± 2.4 years, 1122 (8.3%) incident cases of depression were identified. Compared with no nut consumption, the daily consumption of >0 to 1 serving of 30 g of nuts was associated with a lower risk of depression (hazard ratio, HR = 0.83; 95% confidence interval, CI: 0.71–0.97) regardless of all potential confounders considered. In stratified analyses, a decreased risk of depression was more clearly observed in UK adults with adequate weight control, a healthy lifestyle, and better health status than in their counterparts (p < 0.05). Conclusions Low-to-moderate nut consumption (>0 to 1 serving of 30 g/day) was associated with a 17% lower risk of depression during a 5.3-year follow-up compared with no nut consumption in a large sample of middle-aged and older UK adults. This protective association is enhanced in the absence of other known risk factors for depression.