A healthy diet is not only important for a healthy body, but also a healthy mind. A new study found that a poor diet may be associated with a higher risk of depression.

In the study, two main dietary patterns were analysed. The healthy pattern comprised of a high intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish while the Western pattern was characterised by a high intake of processed meats, refined grains, high sugar and high fat products. When compared, researchers found that adherence to a healthy diet was associated with a 16% lower risk of depression while the Western diet was associated with a higher risk of depression. However, researchers say this may be due to lack of high quality studies on dietary pattern – so it’s not possible to tell if a poor diet was responsible for depression or vice versa.

There are a number of ways a healthy diet could reduce the risk of depression though. These could come from the anti-inflammatory properties, which influence concentrations of monoamines. Antioxidants also reduce damage to neurons, omega-3 fatty acids have also been associated with lower risk of depression, or reduced risk due to the cumulative effect of all these compounds.