Trans fats increased risk of depression in six-year diet study

trans fat depression study

In a Spanish study, eating trans fats increased depression risk while a Mediterranean diet had the opposite effect. Image: mauricesvay/Flickr

Eating the trans fats present in processed foods increases the risk of depression, according to a recent study. The same study found that a Mediterranean diet rich in polyunsaturated fats and olive oil reduced the risk of depression. The effect of trans fat on depression may be even more pronounced in the U.S., where the rate of trans fat consumption is much higher than in Europe.

Trans fats and depression

People who ate trans fat were 48 percent more likely to suffer from depression, according to a study conducted at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in Spain. The increase in the risk in depression was documented in people who obtained more than 0.6 percent of their calories from trans fats. To draw their conclusions, researchers tracked more than 12,000 people for six years. None of the participants suffered from depression at the beginning of the study. People who consumed the most trans fats at the beginning of the study were at a greater risk of depression over time than those who consumed less.

Trans fats and inflammation

The trans fat/depression study began with questionnaires on diet and medical conditions, which were administered again when the study concluded. Not only was trans fat consumption linked to depression, higher levels of trans fat consumption led to a higher risk of depression. Participants who ate a Mediterranean diet were less likely to become depressed. The study’s authors suggested a relationship between depression and inflammation, which is common among people with depression. Trans fats increase inflammation, a risk factor for heart disease, as well as lower HDL (good) cholesterol and raise LDL (bad) cholesterol. Olive oil a key component of a Mediterranean diet, contains compounds that help reduce inflammation.

Trans fat consumption in the U.S.

The Spanish study should be considered a wake-up call to Americans. The Spanish subjects in the study eating the highest levels of trans fat averaged 0.4 percent of total calories from trans fat, mostly in the form of milk and cheese. An American diet averages about 2.5 percent of calories from trans fat, in large part from processed foods. The U.S. leads the world in the consumption of trans fats and cases of depression, as well as heart disease.




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