The June 2010 issue of Nutrition Journal included a new study suggesting that vegetarian diets may reduce the risk of stress, anxiety, and depression.
The study yielded results showing that people who had high levels of fatty acids found in veggies and low levels of fatty acids found in fish were less likely to develop depression or experience stress and anxiety. Overall, people who followed this type of diet had better moods.
Beezhold B.L. at Arizona State University, along with colleagues, surveyed 138 healthy Seventh Day Adventist members located in the Southwest. The study participants completed a profile of mood questionnaires, a food questionnaire, and a depression/anxiety stress scale.
Based on the results of the questionnaires, particularly the nutritional and mood-related information, a connection between fatty acids and the participantsâ€™ mood statuses was investigated.
The researchers found that vegetarians reported significantly less negative emotions than those who did not follow a vegetarian diet. Also, vegetarians reported having low intake of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and arachidonic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid); however, they had a higher intake of linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid than their omnivore counterparts.
Beezhold and fellow researchers concluded that â€œthe vegetarian diet profile does not appear to adversely affect mood despite low intake of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids.â€ In the past, EPA and DAH were thought to have a positive impact of mood, which has been slightly disproved by this study.
The study further suggests that an individual doesnâ€™t have to take fish oil, eat fish, or take omega-3 fatty acids to decrease the risk of depression, stress and anxiety. They also noted that vegetarians, overall, typically make healthier dietary choices than individuals who do not follow a vegetarian diet; this could lead to improved health and happiness.
So, vegetarians: donâ€™t worry about the fish oil! Apparently, youâ€™re doing something right.