Mediterranean Diet and Mental Health

Mediterranean Diet and Mental Health

You already know that The Mediterranean Diet is associated with numerous health benefits including heart, gut, skin and brain health.  Now, researchers are increasingly discovering it may also improve mental health, and reduce instances of mental illness such as ADHD, as well as symptoms such as depression, and anxiety.

The Mediterranean Diet, first described by Ancel Keys, consists of healthy foods such as fish, nuts, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. This diet is rich in fiber, antioxidants, and omega-fatty acids (an example being our own EVOO)!


Consumption of a Mediterranean Diet is associated with lower rates of anxiety and depression

A recent study from Nova Southeastern University which surveyed 100 university students on their adherence to the Mediterranean Diet found a significant correlation of those that follow this diet will also be mentally healthier.

The study consisted of both men and women, comparing their daily diet patterns to levels of anxiety and depression measuring their overall mental well-being. Respondents reported on their dietary intake, as well as specific questions that define their level of anxiety and depression.  Researchers concluded that there is a correlation between adherence to MD and lower rates of depression, and anxiety. Interestingly, MD was more closely related to lower levels of depression than anxiety.

Adherence to the Mediterranean Diet is correlated with lower rates of ADHD in children 

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders in children. Many sufferers of this disorder may experience impulsive behaviors resulting in trouble focusing and paying attention. 

A recent study from the American Academy of Pediatrics hypothesized an adherence to the Mediterranean Diet to be correlated to a decrease in ADHD diagnosis. The research study consisted of 120 children aged 6 to 16 with 60 of them being newly diagnosed. The children were required to report foods they frequently consumed in their daily meals. 

Results showcased those with ADHD consumed more fast food and fewer fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. The study also concluded those who had lower adherence to MD had a three to seven times greater risk of ADHD! Therefore, according to the researchers, higher adherence to a  mediterranean diet containing vegetables, legumes, fruits and nuts, grains, and fish could decrease the odds of ADHD in primary school children.

In an interview, for the olive oil times, Dr. Michael Wald, director of longevity services at Integrated Nutrition in Mount Kisco, explained a potential mechanism for the link between olive oil consumption and lower rates of ADHD “ADHD is known to involve abnormalities in the cell membrane structure of brain neurons. These cells are partly composed of unsaturated fat that includes omega-3 fatty acids, which provide neuroprotection and afford the brain and nervous system the ability to self-correct. Therefore, leaning towards an MD particularly high in healthy fats, along with the fatty acids found in olive oil, can become incorporated into the brains of those with ADHD and ultimately improve memory, attention, mood, behavior, and learning”


How to use The Mediterranean Diet for Mental Health?

In summary, more, and more studies suggest that adopting an anti-inflammatory diet such as the Mediterranean Diet,  can have a positive effect on one’s mental health.  Ready to give it a try? start with small changes – incorporate more vegetables and fish in your diet, reduce your intake of processed foods, and consume high quality olive oil.

Check out our selection of high-phenolic olive oils here and take the first step toward a healthier well-being.




  1. Gabrielle A. Jasmin. 2022. Cross-sectional Analysis of the Relationship Between Adherence to the Mediterranean Diet and Mental Wellness. Capstone. Nova Southeastern University. Retrieved from NSUWorks, . (4)

  2. Ríos-Hernández, A., Alda, J. A., Farran-Codina, A., Ferreira-García, E., & Izquierdo-Pulido, M. (2017, February 1). The Mediterranean Diet and ADHD in Children and Adolescents.



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