The Food-Mood Connection Is Stronger in Women Than in Men

Good nutrition and good mood have long been found to go hand in hand. But, according to a study published in Nutritional Neuroscience, good nutrition may have more influence on women’s mental well-being than on men’s. For the study, researchers used social media to send out an anonymous survey—including questions about diet, lifestyle, and mental well-being—to adult men and women. After analyzing the answers they received from 563 people, they found that:

  • Women were more likely to report mental well-being if they had a healthy lifestyle, including a nutrient-dense diet.
  • On the other hand, men were more likely to report mental well-being until they had nutritional deficiencies.
  • For women, mental well-being was associated with a Mediterranean diet, which typically includes high amounts of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and olive oil; moderate amounts of fish, dairy products, and red wine; and low amounts of red meat, eggs, sugar, and processed foods.
  • For men, mental distress was associated with a Western-style diet, which typically includes high amounts of red meat, dairy products, sugar, salt, and processed foods, and low amounts of fruits, vegetables, fish, grains, and legumes.

This study adds to the evidence that a poor diet is associated with a low sense of mental well-being, and further suggests that women may be especially susceptible to the negative effects of inadequate nutrition on mental health. Researchers posit that this finding could be one reason women have been found to be at a greater risk for mental distress than men. Future research is needed to investigate the mechanisms of this association and to establish a cause-and-effect relationship between nutrition and women’s mental health. But with all the other health benefits that come with good nutrition, there’s no better time than the present to start eating a balanced diet.

Source: Nutritional Neuroscience

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