Can Diet Affect Depression Symptoms?

November 12, 2017

raw salmon and other healthy foods

We all know we should “eat healthy” to stay in shape and live longer, but our diet could actually play a role in our mental health as well. A new study suggests that following a Mediterranean diet could go so far as to help relieve symptoms of depression.

There’s already been research stacking up for the Mediterranean diet for other reasons. From memory improvement to heart health, this diet has been gaining quite a following.

Where a Western diet is focused on red meat, saturated fats, and limited produce, the Mediterranean diet is plant based. It focuses on vegetables and fruits, legumes and whole grains to make up the bulk of most meals; seafood and poultry take the place of red meat, and any dairy should be minimal and low fat.

The Mediterranean diet also differs in more subtle ways, but these subtleties are no less important. For instance, where Westerners typically use butter and salt for flavor, Mediterranean natives use olive oil, herbs and spices.

Additionally, seafood is a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which have been proven to be important for brain health. This diet is also rich in fiber and antioxidants, which scientists believe to be linked to lowering inflammation in the body.

They think this combination of fatty acids, fiber, and antioxidants could aid in preserving proteins found in the brain – these proteins could be a major help in defending against depression.

While the study group was small, the researchers say their results were statistically significant in suggesting that diet could play a role in depression symptoms. Furthermore, a Mediterranean diet could be a key factor in lessening those symptoms.

So how do you get started? has put together a suggested shopping list to help you start on the right foot. Once your pantry is stocked, visit our Pinterest board full of Mediterranean dinner ideas to put it all together.

Vegetable Ideas

  1. Kale, Swiss chard, arugula
  2. Leeks, onions, shallots, garlic
  3. Radishes, beets, carrots
  4. Sweet potatoes
  5. Cucumbers
  6. Artichokes
  7. Fennel
  8. Eggplant
  9. Peppers

Protein Ideas

  1. Canned tuna, salmon, or anchovies
  2. Fresh salmon or mackerel, oysters, mussels
  3. Eggs
  4. Lean game meats such as quail, duck, and bison

Fat Ideas 

  1. Extra-virgin olive oil
  2. Canola oil
  3. Safflower oil

Whole Grain Ideas

  1. Quinoa
  2. Farro
  3. Bulgur
  4. Barley
  5. Wheat Berries

Nut and Seed Ideas

  1. Almonds, pine nuts, walnuts
  2. Sesame seeds

Dairy Ideas

  1. Feta, goat cheese, haloumi, ricotta, Parmigiano-Reggiano
  2. Greek yogurt

Fruit Ideas

  1. Olives, avocados, tomatoes,
  2. Figs, apricots, dates
  3. Pears, oranges, grapes, cherries, pomegranates


  1. Chickpeas, cannellini beans, fava beans
  2. Lentils, split peas
  3. Peanuts

Condiments and Spices

  1. Tahini
  2. Harissa
  3. Fig spread
  4. Hummus, tapenade, pesto,
  5. Za’atar
  6. Ground cumin, turmeric, ground coriander, Spanish paprika (also called pimentón)
  7. Saffron threads
Carroll, Linda. (2017, February 1). Mediterranean Diet Associated with Relief from Depression Symptoms. Retrieved from
Laseter, Elizabeth. (2017, August 30). What is the Mediterranean Diet? Retrieved from
Mayo Clinic Staff. Mediterranean Diet: A Heart-Healthy Eating Plan. Retrieved from
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