Diet and Nutrition

Eating Trans Fat May Increase Your Risk of Depression

Eating Trans Fat May Increase Your Risk of Depression

Key Takeaways

  • Over consumption of trans fat can increase your risk of depression.
  • If you try to replace trans fat with olive oil, your risk of depression decreases significantly.
  • Gender can play a role in the link between trans fat consumption and depression. 

A recent study has shown that the consumption of trans fats on a regular basis can increase your chances of developing depression, in addition to several cardiovascular conditions. This risk can be reduced significantly by maintaining a healthy diet, and replacing any form of trans fat with olive oil, as reported by Almudena Sanchez-Villegas, PhD, associate professor of preventive medicine at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in Las Palmas, Spain.

To test this theory, a study was conducted that involved over 12,000 participants. Individuals that regularly consume trans fat in their diet, added a 48% increase in their risk of developing depression. In this study, a multitude of individuals incorporated more than 20 grams of olive oil in their daily diets — in addition to avoiding the consumption of trans fat — and ultimately decreased their risk for depression. The study results published in the journal, PLoS ONE, reports that trans fat leads to biological changes in the body, which may result in cardiovascular diseases and depression.

In this recent study, researchers analyzed data from exactly 12,059 participants, who, on average, were 37-years-old. In the beginning of the study, the participants did not have depression. All of the participants answered a questionnaire to determine their frequency of fat consumption. Each participant were followed closely for a little over six years, during which 657 new cases of depression were confirmed and reported. Researchers then had to analyze the ratio between fat consumption and depression.

The results revealed that those who had a high intake of trans fat, had an increased risk of depression. Those who had tried to replace trans fat with olive oil, were at an extremely low risk for depression. However, Sanchez-Villegas reported that the consumption of trans fat was relatively low among the majority of the participants. The highest trans fat intake was only up to 1.5 grams in one day. The participant who consumed this amount was part of the group that developed a 48% increase in their risk for depression. Thus, the study showed a dose-response relationship. Sanchez-Villegas came to the conclusion that the more trans fat an individual consumes, there will be an increased risk of depression. If an individual incorporates olive oil in his or her diet, there will be more protection against developing this mental disorder.

Trans fat may increase levels of LDL cholesterol, and decrease the HDL cholesterol, which can directly influence the risk of developing heart disease. A number of inflammatory occurrences in the body are also associated with the consumption of these unhealthy fats, which may lead to depression, according to Sanchez-Villegas and several other researchers.

Jian Zhang, MD, DrPH, a researcher at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, reported that the new study adds to the growing evidence of the link between health, mental stability, and the type of fat consumed. Furthermore, severals studies suggest that the physical and mental health of an individual can be influenced by the types of fat that he or she consumes.

Studies have also revealed that gender plays a role on the link between fat consumption and mood. A study conducted by Zhang has revealed that the over consumption of oleic acids, in women, linked to a significant drop in the risk for depression; however, over consumption of linoleic fatty acids, in men, linked to an increased risk for depression. Albeit studies show conflicting results regarding other fats, all of the evidence shows that olive oil is beneficial to your health and mental stability, according to Zhang.

Sanchez-Villegas claims that having a Mediterranean diet and incorporating olive oil, plenty of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and consuming a small amount of wine in your diet, is the ideal way to good mental health and physical health.