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Mediterranean diet can enhance mental wellbeing

09 April 2018

Nutrition and dietetics
Recent studies are showing a Mediterranean diet can enhance mental health.

Patricia, one of our dietitians working as part of the mental health team, said it is promising to see recent studies supporting the use of the Mediterranean diet to help with mental health1, 2

“These new studies follow on the research that shows the benefits of the Mediterranean diet for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease3,” she said.

“It is simple and easy to follow the Mediterranean diet.”

To follow a Mediterranean diet:

  • Use olive oil as rather than vegetable oil when cooking.The type of fat in olive oil is monounsaturated, which is a better type of fat for prevention of heart disease compared to saturated, which comes mostly from animal fats.The type of olive oil is also important.Extra virgin olive oil is high in antioxidants while ‘light’ olive oil (which people are choosing thinking it is lower in fat) has the same fat content, but its antioxidant content is almost zero.
  • Eat vegetables with every meal. Include green, leafy vegetables and tomatoes.
  • Include at least two legume-based meals per week. Legumes include peas (eg; chickpeas), beans (eg; Borlotti beans) and lentils.
  • Eat two serves (150 g per serve) of fish per week and include oily fish (eg; Atlantic and Australian salmon, blue-eye trevalla, blue mackerel, gemfish, canned sardines and canned salmon). Canned tuna is not as high in the important fish oil omega-3, but still a good choice to include in your fish serves.
  • Eat smaller portions (less than 100 g) of meat (eg; beef, lamb, pork and chicken) and less often (no more than two to three times a week).
  • Eat fresh fruit every day and include dried fruit and nuts as a snack or dessert option.
  • Eat yoghurt every day and cheese in moderation.
  • Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavour foods.
  • Consume wine in moderation and with meals.Limit intake to no more than two standard drinks per day for men and women.One standard drink of wine equals 100 mL.Talk to your doctor if you are on any medication that might prevent you from drinking alcohol.
  • Have sweets or sweet drinks for special occasions only.
  • And the last factor is enjoying food as a social occasion – eating slowly and savouring the flavours and company.