Women who eat fewer than two serves of fruit a day face a greater risk of developing depression, University of Queensland research shows. UQ School of Population Health's Professor Gita Mishra said the findings of a six-year study of more than 6000 Australian women revealed a clear link between fruit consumption and the development of depressive symptoms.
"We found that women who ate at least two servings of fruit a day were less likely to suffer from depression than women who ate fewer servings, even after taking into account other factors such as smoking, alcohol, body mass index (BMI), physical activity, marital status and education," Professor Mishra said.
"We also found that eating two or more servings of fruit a day protected women from developing depression in the future."
Professor Mishra said researchers had not found a link between vegetable intake and depression.
"More research is needed on the different effects of fruit and vegetables, but this may be because fruit has higher levels of anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidants, such as resveratrol, which is not found in vegetables."
She said the findings highlighted the importance of a diet high in fruit to avoid the development of depression in middle age.
"Women experience depression at about twice the rate of men, and the rate of depression is growing rapidly.
"By 2030 it is expected to be one of the world's top three diseases, making it a priority area for public health interventions."
Researchers surveyed participants in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health, an Australian Government-funded project that is one of the world's largest and longest-running studies of women's health and wellbeing.
Mihrshahi S, Dobson AJ, Mishra GD. “Fruit and vegetable consumption and prevalence and incidence of depressive symptoms in mid-age women: results from the Australian longitudinal study on women's health.” Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014 Oct 29. DOI: 10.1038/ejcn.2014.222. [Epub ahead of print]