A meta-analysis has found that eating a lot of fish may lower the risk of developing depression.
Dongfeng Zhang, PhD, of the Medical College of Qingdao University, China, and colleages examined data from studies published between 2001 and 2014 to examine a potential link between fish consumption and depression risk. A total of 16 articles, encompassing 26 studies and just over 150,000 people, were included in the final analysis.
Ten of the studies were cohort studies, while the remainder were cross-sectional. Ten were from Europe, seven from North America, and the rest from Asia, Oceania and South American.
A link was found between participants who ate the most fish and a 17% reduction in depression risk compared with those eating the least, the researchers reported in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. The association was a bit stronger in men (20%) than women (16%).
One theory as to why fish may help to reduce depression is that Omega-3 fatty acids may alter the microstructure of brain membranes and influence the activity of neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, which are both involved in depression.
Fish also includes protein, vitamins, and minerals that may help to ward off depression. In addition, eating a lot of fish may be an indicator of a healthy and more nutritious diet, according to the researchers.
A review of more than 25 international studies suggests that in some countries, eating a lot of fish may curtail the development of depression. In the analysis, researchers combined or pooled data from similar research studies to statistically assess the strength of the evidence on the link between fish consumption and depression risk.
They discovered fish appears to reduce the risk of depression among the residents of some countries, while the linkage was not found elsewhere.
Specifically, researchers found a benefit from fish consumption in European studies. The analysis appears online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.