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Nutr Neurosci. 2017 Apr;20(3):161-171. doi: 10.1179/1476830515Y.0000000043. Epub 2016 Mar 2.

Dietary recommendations for the prevention of depression.

Opie RS1,2, Itsiopoulos C1,2, Parletta N2,3, Sanchez-Villegas A2,4,5, Akbaraly TN2,6,7,8,9, Ruusunen A2,10,11, Jacka FN2,12,13,14,15.

Author information

a School of Allied Health , College of Science, Health and Engineering, La Trobe University , Melbourne , Australia.
b International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research (ISNPR) , Melbourne , Australia.
c Sansom Institute of Health Research, Division of Health Sciences , University of South Australia , Adelaide , Australia.
d Nutrition Research Group, Research Institute of Biomedical and Health Sciences , University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria , Spain.
e Ciber de Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición (CIBER OBN), Instituto de Salud Carlos III , Madrid , Spain.
f Inserm U 1198 , Montpellier F-34000 , France.
g University Montpellier , France.
h EPHE , Paris , France.
i Department of Epidemiology and Public Health , University College London , UK.
j Department of Psychiatry , Kuopio University Hospital , Finland.
k Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, University of Eastern Finland , Kuopio , Finland.
l IMPACT Strategic Research Centre , Deakin University , Geelong , Australia.
m Centre for Adolescent Health, Murdoch Children's Research Institute , Melbourne , Australia.
n Department of Psychiatry , University of Melbourne , Parkville , Australia.
o Black Dog Institute , Sydney , Australia.



Major depressive disorder is a common, chronic condition that imposes a substantial burden of disability globally. As current treatments are estimated to address only one-third of the disease burden of depressive disorders, there is a need for new approaches to prevent depression or to delay its progression. While in its early stages, converging evidence from laboratory, population research, and clinical trials now suggests that dietary patterns and specific dietary factors may influence the risk for depression. However, largely as a result of the recency of the nutritional psychiatry field, there are currently no dietary recommendations for depression.


The aim of this paper is to provide a set of practical dietary recommendations for the prevention of depression, based on the best available current evidence, in order to inform public health and clinical recommendations.


Five key dietary recommendations for the prevention of depression emerged from current published evidence. These comprise: (1) follow 'traditional' dietary patterns, such as the Mediterranean, Norwegian, or Japanese diet; (2) increase consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes, wholegrain cereals, nuts, and seeds; (3) include a high consumption of foods rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids; (4) replace unhealthy foods with wholesome nutritious foods; (5) limit your intake of processed-foods, 'fast' foods, commercial bakery goods, and sweets.


Although there are a number of gaps in the scientific literature to date, existing evidence suggests that a combination of healthful dietary practices may reduce the risk of developing depression. It is imperative to remain mindful of any protective effects that are likely to come from the cumulative and synergic effect of nutrients that comprise the whole-diet, rather than from the effects of individual nutrients or single foods. As the body of evidence grows from controlled intervention studies on dietary patterns and depression, these recommendations should be modified accordingly.


Depression; Diet; Mental disorder; Prevention

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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