A Mediterranean diet rich in EVOO reduces symptoms of depression and improves quality of life.

Depression is the most common mental illness in the world, affecting 280 million people and estimated to affect 3.8% of the population, including 5% of adults and 5.7% of adults over 60 years of age. The annual prevalence in Spain is around 6%. And the most alarming thing is that the incidence is only growing.

Five years ago, a research group coordinated University of Las Palmas de Gran Canariawith the cooperation of recruiting centers in Vitoria, Pamplona, ​​Madrid and Las Palmas de Gran Canariatook the initiative Preventing relapse of depression with the Mediterranean diet (PREDIDEP). The premise was that intervention in patients’ diet would have an effect on this condition.

Considering that depression and cardiovascular disease share common pathological mechanisms, such as the presence of inflammation or oxidative stress, it is logical that the chosen model was the Mediterranean diet rich in extra virgin olive oil, which gave such good results in the PREDIMED and CORDIOPREV studies. cardiovascular disease research. In 2019, 52 men and 144 women aged 18 to 86 years who had experienced at least one episode of depression in the past five years were recruited. A portion of these patients followed the Mediterranean pattern, using olive oil as the main source of fat, while the rest followed a control diet.

He sector olive oilthrough Interprofessional Organization of Spanish Olive Oilwas responsible for the supply of extra virgin olive oil for this study. Participants were advised to take at least four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil per day..

The results of the project are now brought to the attention of the scientific community around the world through prestigious publications (Experimental Gerontology and Nutritional Neuroscience). And they are very encouraging, as he explains. Almudena Sanchez-Villegas research coordinator: “Following a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil appears to have a beneficial effect on patients recovered from a depressive disorder, reducing their residual depressive symptoms in both the short and medium term.

Participants with residual depressive symptoms who received a Mediterranean diet supplemented with EVOO experienced significant reductions in depressive symptoms (from 2 to 3 points) in both the short and long term; “In the control group, there was no significant reduction in depressive symptoms at any follow-up.”

The doctor especially emphasizes the progress made by patients in terms of quality of life. They were given a questionnaire to assess four physical dimensions of quality of life and many other mental dimensions: “It is interesting to highlight the result obtained for the so-called “mental health” and “vitality” (both mental domains). and for global mental assessment. Patients assigned Mediterranean diet with added EVOO “They were able to significantly increase scores on these three measures by approximately 7, 9 and 3 points, respectively, after two years of intervention.”

Almudena Sánchez-Villegas believes that these results should be taken into account in clinical practice from now on: “The recommendation to follow this diet rich in extra virgin olive oil should be included in patients with a history of depression along with their follow-up. and routine clinical monitoring of the pharmacological and/or psychological type.”

Interprofessional collaboration with this group of researchers is part of the policy of promoting innovation, which is the hallmark of the Organization, explains Rafael Sanchez de Puerta, responsible for research and development: “There is no future without innovation. For this reason, we have been collaborating for 15 years with researchers from all over the country to achieve advances that will make our olive groves and companies much more competitive and sustainable. At the same time, we advance health research such as PREDIDEP, the fight against breast cancer or gestational diabetes, by providing product for research without interfering with it. We must not forget that the majority of consumers in the world who purchase our oils do so because they want a healthier diet.”

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