Nothing improves a low mood like a ‘little treat’ right? Unfortunately, according to a new study*, the naughty snacks that don’t look good on your thighs, aren’t doing your mental health any favours either.
The study of 12,059 volunteers found that trans and saturated fats can raise the risk of suffering depression by nearly as much as 50%! Volunteers were tracked over 6 years and those who consumed more trans-fats presented up to a 48% increase in the risk of depression, compared to participants who did not consume trans fats. Worse still, the more trans-fats consumed, the greater the harmful effects.
Fortunately, fats aren’t off the menu entirely, as polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats were actually proven to reduce the risk of depression. The study suggests that this may be why depression rates in countries with a Mediterranean diet are lower.
How much trans fat is too much?
The study volunteers had a pretty low intake of trans fats – only about 0.4% of their daily energy intake and much of this came from ‘natural’ products like full cream milk and cheese. This means that even a little could be bringing you down. (Can you imagine the implications for countries like America, where an average consumer receives approximately 2.5% of their energy intake from trans fats? – Eek!).
What can I do to lower my risk of depression?
Start by swapping trans fats for polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats found in nuts, vegetable oils and fish. Go olive oil all the way! Supermarkets nowadays have a great range of nut oils you can use for cooking and DIY salad dressings too. Also, stick to soft tub spreads with low saturated fat and no trans fat, as opposed to stick margarine and butter.
Trans fats are also used to extend the shelf life of mass-produced stuff like fast food, pastries, cakes and chips, so if you’ve been needing extra motivation to avoid the naughty stuff, just think of how much happier you’ll be without it – literally!
Deep fried dishes at restaurants are a trans fat field day too, along with french fries, muffins, taco shells, cake mix, manufactured salad dressings, pre-packaged microwave popcorn, croutons, pre-mixed pizza dough, pre-mixed pancake mix and pies.
If you DO have to fry something (tempura vegetables – they’re kind of innocent, right?) make sure you use traditional vegetable oils like canola and new oils made from specific varieties of soybeans, sunflowers and grains and seeds.
Your waistline and your mood will thank you for it!
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