A Mediterranean diet is rich in vegetables, legumes and wholegrains, oily fish, olive oil and raw unsalted nuts.
“Young men tend to not have the best diets, so there’s lots of room for improvement there,” lead researcher Jessica Bayes said.
“The Mediterranean diet has the most evidence so far from an observational point of view.”
Men on the Mediterranean diet had three appointments with a clinical nutritionist during the 12-week trial.
Only three servings of discretionary foods such as sweets, fried food, processed meats and sugary drinks were allowed each week.
Those on the diet were compared to a control group and the results were promising.
“Those dietary changes were associated with reductions in their depressive symptoms and improvements in their overall quality of life scores,” Bayes said.
Although the sample group was small, authors of the study said the results could help guide future research and inform treating doctors.
At least a million Australians suffer depression, with young men more hesitant to seek help for their symptoms.
“We know that young men with mental health conditions they’re much less likely to seek help for their mental health, with about 13 per cent actually seeking help,” Bayes said.
Bayes said the evidence around changing one’s diet could be a “powerful and easy” first step to help with depression.
Beyond Blue lead clinical adviser Dr Grant Blashki said this research is important for addressing mental health in young men.
“It’s great to see more research into how we can help young men with depression and improving diet may be part of the mix as part of a comprehensive approach to depression management,” Blashki said.
“This study adds to growing research around the benefits of nutritional approaches, which is important because more studies are needed in this area.
“Beyond Blue recommends that people seek advice from a health professional to put in place an overall management plan including lifestyle changes like exercise and diet, psychological approaches and, in more severe cases, pharmacological treatments if required.”
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