Mediterranean Diet and its Benefits on Health and Mental Health: A Literature Review.

Clinical practice and epidemiology in mental health : CP & EMH. 2020;16(Suppl-1):156-164
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Mediterranean Diet (MD) is currently considered one of the healthiest dietary models worldwide due to the high intake of antioxidants, dietary fibre, monounsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids, phytosterols and probiotics. The aim of this review was to present current literature showing evidence on the possible impact of MD on health and mental health. The review was based on 27 articles of which 13 were carried out in Spain, 3 in the USA, 3 in Italy, 4 in Australia and 4 in other EU countries. Literature shows that MD improves: - metabolic cardiovascular parameters with a reduced incidence of major cardiovascular events by approximately 30%. - metabolic balance in patients affected by type 2 diabetes mellitus. - biochemical markers for metabolic disorders as well as in patients at risk of specific cancer diseases. Additionally, not enough data is available on the MD effects on specific psychopathological issues. In fact, besides adherence to MD, other factors - which should be further investigated - also play a role in the effectiveness of the MD. Authors conclude that further studies are needed to address the efficacy of diet as an adjunctive treatment for mental disorders as well as for the management of comorbid cardiovascular and metabolic issues.


Mediterranean Diet (MD) is currently considered one of the most healthy dietary models worldwide. It is generally based on the daily intake of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, fish, white meats, and olive oil. It may also include moderate consumption of fermented dairy products, a low intake of red meat, and red/white wine during the main course. Even if the effect of MD on cancer prevention as well as on human metabolic and cardiovascular balance has been discussed, including the quality of life of the exposed population, the putative effects on mental health are still not properly investigated. This narrative review reports on some emerging pieces of evidence on the possible impact of MD on general health and the outcome of psychiatric disorders (e.g., major depression, anxiety) and encourages further studies to test the benefits of healthy food selection on the health of the general population.

Lifestyle medicine

Fundamental Clinical Imbalances : Neurological ; Immune and inflammation
Patient Centred Factors : Triggers/Mediterranean Diet
Environmental Inputs : Diet ; Nutrients
Personal Lifestyle Factors : Nutrition
Functional Laboratory Testing : Not applicable
Bioactive Substances : Probiotics

Methodological quality

Jadad score : Not applicable
Allocation concealment : Not applicable
Publication Type : Systematic Review