Vegetarian diet quality can affect mental health

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Scientists from Bond University found not all vegan and vegetarian diets are healthy—and one consequence of a low-quality plant-based diet could be poorer mental health.

They found that plant-eaters with a taste for processed foods are more susceptible to depression than peers with diets high in fresh produce.

The research is published in BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health and was conducted by Megan Lee et al.

Vegans and vegetarians are not automatically eating heaps of fruit and veg because there are all these products out there that are fully processed, and fully refined.

Many of the products are high in refined vegetable oils and refined grains, salt, and sugar.

People may inadvertently be consuming high levels of processed plant foods which is a known risk factor for increased depression.

In the study, the researchers examined the diet quality and mental health of 219 vegans and vegetarians in Australia.

The participants were asked to complete questionnaires based on recognized measures of diet quality and depression.

Those with diets high in fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains were found to be at lower risk of depression compared to fellow vegans and vegetarians with low-quality diets.

The team says the protective effect of a high-quality plant-based diet was likely due to the presence of complex carbohydrates, fiber, probiotics, and antioxidants which have all been found to decrease symptoms of depression.

But they say the research indicated switching to a high-quality plant-based diet was not a “cure” for those already experiencing depression. It seems to have more of a protective role.

Vegans and vegetarians are already more vulnerable to depression than the general population.

Participants in the study were aged 18–44 which closely corresponds with the 15–44 age group for which suicide is the leading cause of death in Australia.

Almost 14 percent of people in this age group report experiencing symptoms of depression.

More than 2.5 million Australians have chosen to go meat-free—about 12 percent of the total population.

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If you care about mental health, please read studies about natural food supplement that may help relieve anxiety, and drinking alcohol for a long time may cause these mental problems.

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