Published online Sep 20, 2018. doi: 10.5498/wjp.v8.i3.97
Peer-review started: April 28, 2018
First decision: June 6, 2018
Revised: June 12, 2018
Accepted: June 29, 2018
Article in press: June 29, 2018
Published online: September 20, 2018
The Western dietary pattern is insufficient in a number of essential nutrients. Evidence suggests dietary pattern is key to the prevention and treatment of depressive disorders, yet treatment rarely includes food recommendations. Nutrient profiling systems rank foods according to nutrient density and guide clinical recommendations, research study design, and patient choices. No current food rating scale focuses on nutrients required for mental health.
The objective of this study is to determine which foods are the most nutrient dense sources of nutrients demonstrated by the scientific literature to play a role in the prevention and promotion of recovery from depressive disorders.
A systematic literature review was conducted to derive a list of Antidepressant Nutrients from the 34 nutrients known to be essential for humans using level of evidence criteria. Nutritional data was extracted for a subset of foods with a high content of at least 1 Antidepressant Nutrient using a USDA database. These foods were analyzed for Antidepressant Nutrient density resulting in an Antidepressant Food Score (AFS). Plant and animal foods were analyzed separately.
Twelve Antidepressant Nutrients relate to the prevention and treatment of depressive disorders: Folate, iron, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA), magnesium, potassium, selenium, thiamine, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, and zinc. The highest scoring foods were bivalves such as oysters and mussels, various seafoods and organ meats for animal foods. The highest scoring plant foods were leafy greens, lettuces, peppers, and cruciferous vegetables.
The AFS is based on a nutrient profiling system devised to identify foods with the highest nutrient density of nutrients with clinical evidence to support their role in depressive disorders. This list of foods and food categories with the highest density of the 12 Antidepressant Nutrients, the Antidepressant Foods, should be considered by researchers in the design of future intervention studies and clinicians as dietary options to support prevention and recovery from depression.
The AFS was designed to identify the most nutrient-dense individual foods to prevent and promote recovery from depressive disorders and symptoms. Results can be used to inform the design of future research studies or clinical dietary recommendations. This tool is based on a systematic literature review, evidence-informed list of Antidepressant Nutrients, and nutrient density calculation. The highest scoring animal foods were bivalves such as oysters and mussels, various seafoods, and organ meats. The highest scoring plant-based foods were leafy greens, lettuces, peppers, and cruciferous vegetables. These foods can be integrated into any dietary pattern.