Trans Fat Intake Linked To Depression, Spanish Study Says

If you’re nursing your depression with comfort food, beware: that ice cream might be making your depression worse.

A new study released last week analyzed the link between development of depression and dietary habits. The researchers enrolled over 12,000 college graduates – none of whom suffered from depression at the beginning of the study -  and recorded their habits. They noted the graduates’ levels of consumption of various fats, including trans fats, present in many processed foods and other dietary fats, such as olive oils or other sources. The study participants were tracked for six years, reporting any new incidents of depression or medication for depression.

The study results were surprising: the risk of developing depression rose significantly as the levels of trans fat intake rose.  Those with the highest levels of trans fat intake had a 42% increased risk of depression; those with the lowest trans fat intake levels had barely any increased risk.

This study took place in Spain, where most dietary intake of trans fats is from milk or cheese. The American diet contains four to five times the levels of trans fat of the average Spanish diet, with such delicious goodies including cookies, crackers, french fries, donuts and other foods made or fried with vegetable oils common in American diets.

While this type of study does not conclusively prove a link between trans fat intake and depression, the numbers are hard to ignore. Trans fats are already major culprits in heart disease and other health issues; it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to discover they have an impact on our mental health as well.

So next time you’re feeling down, reach for a frozen banana instead of the ice cream; go for a walk instead of reaching for the french fries. Your mind – and your body – will thank you.

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By lucianvenutian [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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26 comments

Joel H.
Joel H.4 years ago

Milk and cheese do not contain trans-fats. Trans-fats occur almost exclusively in partially hydrogenated oils; hydrogenation is the artificial process of linking water and oil molecules in a way that seldom occurs in nature (coconut may be an exception). These artificial fats are impossible for the body to break down; it would not surprise me if they add to depression, but they are also strongly suspected in heart disease, diabetes and other severe health problems. Natural dairy products (milk, cheese, ice cream, butter, cream...) do not contain trans fats.

Siti Rohana
Siti R.5 years ago

it's truly about over-indulging whether one is fat or not. food is enjoyable but moderation is key. trans-fats does contribute a little to depression(as far as blood sugar levels are concerned); However it is not the precursor to depression. i've seen how depression is a real low; my mum-83, dignosed with clinical depression and is suffering from dementia. she got that way when the elastic band finally snapped during her grief after the passing of my dad six years ago. a sedentary lifestyle also contribute to depression. we need our very own feel-good endorphins to get thru the day.

Barbara Erdman
Barbara Erdman5 years ago

interesting, thanx

Petra Luna
Petra Luna5 years ago

Depression isn't about being fat, it's a chemical problem. Having a negative self image isn't necessarily depression, and needing to eat fatty foods may be a type of food dependency, similar to food addiction.

The study doesn't say whether skinny people who eat high fat foods are also depressed, or if it's a variety of people, or only slightly over weight people, and if any of them gained weight or not. More numbers are needed to make sure.

Bon L.
Bon L.5 years ago

Thanks for the info.

Ann S.
Ann Sasko5 years ago

wow

Sue Matheson
Sue Matheson5 years ago

this is very interesting.

Loo Samantha
Loo sam5 years ago

thanks for the article.

Cheyenne Ziermann

Personally, I feel like the fact that you are overweight would make you depressed, not the fact that you're eating fats. However, it does depend on whether or not the people they tested were all fat, or half and half, or all skinny. Then I may be wrong, or I may be right.
Overall, not very shocking.

Dotti Lydon
Dotti L.5 years ago

This all seems pretty much like common seanse to me. And they spent how many $$ to do this study? That is depressing.