Extra-virgin olive oil could reduce depression symptoms, study finds

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Scientists from Shiraz University of Medical Sciences and elsewhere found that extra-virgin olive oil could reduce symptoms in people with severe depression.

Depression (also called a major depressive disorder or clinical depression) is a common but serious mood disorder.

It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, thinks, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working.

Major depression, which includes symptoms of depression most of the time for at least 2 weeks that typically interfere with one’s ability to work, sleep, study, and eat.

Many people with depression are reluctant to take psychiatric medications. Hence, complementary therapies such as dietary methods could be beneficial.

Previous research has found the antidepressant effect of olive oil.

Olive oil is one of the principal components of the Mediterranean diet. Several studies have found that high adherence to this dietary pattern is linked to a reduced risk of depression.

In the current study, researchers aimed to examine the effect of extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) on depression symptoms and cortisol and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels in people with depression.

They tested 73 patients suffering from a major depressive disorder.

The patients were assigned to extra-virgin olive oil intervention and control (sunflower oil) groups and consumed 25 mL/d of the corresponding oil for 52 days.

The team measured depression symptoms, salivary cortisol levels, cortisol awakening, and serum BDNF levels in these people.

The researchers found people in the extra-virgin olive oil intervention group had a greater decline in depression symptoms.

Extra-virgin olive oil intervention showed an antidepressant effect in severely depressed patients but not in people with mild/moderate depression.

Based on the findings, researchers suggest the beneficial effects of extra-virgin olive oil on depression symptoms in people with severe depression but not in those with mild to moderate depression.

The effects were strong from both statistical and clinical points of view.

The research was published in The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and conducted by Sahar Foshati et al.

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