If your menu contains daily servings of fruits, salads, fish, beans, yogurt and tofu, you may consider yourself on the straight track to good health. And in fact, these foods have been shown to be heart-healthy.

But a new study contends that this so-called “modern diet” may actually put consumers at greater risk for depression.

On the other hand, traditional fare like beef, lamb, fruits, vegetables and whole grains might keep you looking at the sunnier side of life.

The study, which appears in the March issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, focused on three basic categories of diets in Australian women. The first was called the “traditional diet,” which consisted of not only lamb and beef, but also fish, as well as the fruits and vegetables.

This diet has no processed foods, however.

A second “western diet” revolves around things like processed meats, potato chips, white bread, sugar and pizza. And finally the “modern diet” was rich in salads, tofu, and the other foods described above.

Researchers then compared people in these basic diet categories – taking into consideration other factors like smoking and alcohol use – and assessed their levels of depression. And some interesting trends emerged.

They were not surprised that people on the western diet had increased levels of depression. But they did not expect to find that consumers of the modern diet also had increased levels. Women who ate the traditional diets, meanwhile, fared the best.

The results puzzled researchers at the University of Melbourne in Australia. One possibility is that vegetables in the traditional diet, rather than salads, for example, are superior depression fighters, Felice Jacka, a research fellow at the University of Melbourne, told Psychiatric News on April 2.

Or, it’s also possible that some people already suffering from depression switched to the modern diet in an attempt to feel better.

A thousand women were surveyed for the study.

Photo: Traditionally served leg of lamb (Flickr.com)

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