Despite a boatload of food research in recent years, how a fish-rich diet affects our mood has remained, well, a little murky. Until now.
A new study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health could be the best evidence so far that eating fish could lower the risk of depression, according to a report by The Washington Post. Researchers analyzed data from 26 studies published between 2001 and 2014 that involved a total of more than 150,000 people and discovered that the people who ate the most fish were 17% less at risk of depression than the people who didn't eat much fish. The positive effects of a fish-rich diet were slightly stronger among men than women, too.
While it remains unclear exactly how eating lots of fish impacts your mood and risk of depression, the researchers said it likely has something to do with omega-3 fatty acids, which previous research has shown to affect neurotransmitters in the brain like dopamine (rewards center) and serotonin (happiness). There's also a chance that people who eat a significant amount of fish maintain more nutritious diets and potentially live healthier lifestyles -- we'll just go ahead and assume all those fried fish n' chips don't count here.
However, the study notes the 17% reduction was only seen in the studies that were based in Europe, but not the studies from other continents. This may sound fishy, but researchers said this could hinge on how these studies classified what constituted fish, what type of fish the people consumed, and how it was cooked. Ultimately, more research needs to be done, they said, but suggested chowing down on some fish may be a simple measure to reduce the risk of depression, according to the report.
So the next time you're not feeling great... just cook some skate? Or when things aren't super... fry some grouper? OK, we'll stop.
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Tony Merevick is Cities News Editor at Thrillist and isn't too worried about depression, but would love some more fish in his diet. Send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick.