The Mediterranean diet has been celebrated for its many physical health benefits, including weight loss, better heart health, and a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes. But that may not be the only Mediterranean thing that's praiseworthy: research published in Clinical Psychological Science found a reduced risk of depression in people following a Mediterranean lifestyle. A Mediterranean lifestyle was defined as one which included physical activity, socializing, and, of course, a diet typical of the Mediterranean region (a diet focused on fish; healthy fats such as olive oil; fruits; vegetables; and whole grains).
For the study, 11,800 Spanish university graduates answered food-frequency questionnaires regarding their diet and lifestyle questionnaires regarding their physical activity. The lifestyle questionnaires included questions about how physically active they were and how much time, on average, they spent socializing with friends. Researchers then analyzed these three data points and rated the participants for their adherence to a Mediterranean lifestyle. After observing the participants for about eight and a half years, they found that:
People who adhered most to a Mediterranean lifestyle had a 50% lower risk of developing depression compared with people who adhered least.
This research suggests that if you go Mediterranean, go all the way and include other elements of Mediterranean culture—ample time for socializing with friends and exercising—that make it a well-rounded lifestyle.
Source: Clinical Psychological Science