Many folks go on the DASH diet in hopes of lowering their blood pressure, which makes perfect sense. After all, this physical health benefit is how the diet got its name in the first place; the acronym "DASH" is short for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. But could the diet offer a mental health benefit, too? A new study from the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago supports this exciting idea.
According to the February 2018 findings, researchers found a link between following the DASH diet and a lower risk of depression. The scientists gave 964 adults diet questionnaires, which they used to measure participants' adherence to diets like DASH — an eating plan high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and low in foods high in sugar and saturated fats. The study followed the participants for an average of six and a half years after the questionnaires, and found that those with the highest adherence to DASH were the people least likely to have depression.
But before you rush out to the grocery store to buy only DASH diet-friendly foods, it's worth keeping in mind that this study did not prove that following the DASH diet prevents or reduces depression; rather, the study noticed a connection between following this eating plan and a lower risk of developing depression in several years' time. So the DASH diet should not be used as a way to treat already-existing depression. Furthermore, if you're interested in trying the DASH diet — or any diet, for that matter — be sure to talk to your doctor first before getting started.
That said, it's wonderful to hear more evidence that a healthy diet like DASH might do both the body and the mind good. Though more research is needed, this is certainly a promising (and very positive!) start.
Next, learn some easy food swaps that'll help with your weight-loss goals in the video below: