A new study put forth by the universities of Navarra and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in Spain have found that diets rich in trans-fats — like the kind found in most fast food meals — increase the risk of depression by 50 percent. Even in Europe, where trans-fat consumption is far lower than in the U.S., depression rates are considerably higher among trans-fat-consuming populations.
The team evaluated the diet and lifestyles of some 12,000 European volunteers over a six-year period. At the beginning of the study, none of the participants had been diagnosed with depression. But at its conclusion, 657 of them were diagnosed with the illness.
“Participants with an elevated consumption of trans-fats (artificial fats found in industrially-processed foods) presented up to a 48 percent increase in the risk of depression when they were compared to participants who did not consume these fats,” said head author Miguel Angel Martinez-Gonzalez, Professor of Preventive Medicine at the University of Navarra.
Consumption of trans-fats in Europe represents 0.4 percent of the “total energy ingested.” However, in the U.S., this percentage is six times that amount, registering in at roughly 2.5 percent of total energy ingested. And the authors state that the more trans-fats a person consumes, the higher his or her risk of developing depression. So the same study conducted on U.S. participants would likely have yielded even higher rates of depression.
On the other hand, participants that consumed healthy oils like olive oil and fish oils had a “lower risk of suffering depression,” according to the study. Researchers say that lack of healthy oil consumption and excessive consumption of unhealthy oils continues to increase rates of both depression and cardiovascular disease around the world.