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Food depression: Eating bad may make you sad

January 26, 2011|By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times

Eating food containing trans fats and saturated fats could contribute to depression, scientists reported Wednesday.

Researchers in Spain followed 12,059 people over six years, analyzing their diets, lifestyles and medical problems. The people who ate the most trans fats, which are commonly found in pastries and fast food, had a 48% increased risk of depression compared with people who did not eat trans fats.

Individuals who ate a lot of polyunsaturated fats -- a healthier type of fat that is found in olive oil, for example -- had a lower risk of depression.

The study was conducted on a population of people that, traditionally, does not consume a diet that is high in trans fats. Nevertheless, the connection between a higher trans-fat intake and depression was still noticeable. In countries where the average intake of trans fats is high, such as the United States, the contribution of the bad fats to depression may be even stronger, said the researchers, from the universities of Navarra and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

Many people with heart disease also have depression, the authors noted. It could be that trans fats contribute to both disorders through a similar mechanism. Bad fat increases inflammation in the body. In the heart, that contributes to the buildup of plaque that can cause heart disease. In the brain, substances secreted by inflammation may interfere with neurotransmitters that affect mood.

The study appears in the journal PLoS One.

Related: Study coordinates depression treatment with disease care

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