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Open Access Highly Accessed Opinion

Diet, a new target to prevent depression?

Almudena Sanchez-Villegas1* and Miguel A Martínez-González2

Author affiliations

1 Deparment of Clinical Sciences, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, PO Box 550, CP 35080, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain

2 Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, University of Navarra, C/Irunlarrea 1, CP 31008, Pamplona, Spain

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Citation and License

BMC Medicine 2013, 11:3  doi:10.1186/1741-7015-11-3

Published: 3 January 2013

Abstract

Background

Research on the role of diet in the prevention of depression is scarce. Some evidence suggests that depression shares common mechanisms with cardiovascular disease.

Discussion

Before considering the role of diet in the prevention of depression, several points need to be considered. First, in general, evidence has been found for the effects of isolated nutrients or foods, and not for dietary patterns. Second, most previous studies have a cross-sectional design. Third, information is generally collected though questionnaires, increasing the risk of misclassification bias. Fourth, adequate control of confounding factors in observational studies is mandatory.

Summary

Only a few cohort studies have analyzed the relationship between overall dietary patterns, such as the Mediterranean diet, and primary prevention of depression. They have found similar results to those obtained for the role of this dietary pattern in cardiovascular disease. To confirm the findings obtained in these initial cohort studies, we need further observational longitudinal studies with improved methodology, as well as large randomized primary prevention trials, with interventions based on changes in the overall food pattern, that include participants at high risk of mental disorders.

Keywords:
Cohort study; dietary patterns; Mediterranean diet; omega-3; trans fatty acids; nutrigenetics; primary prevention trial