(UPI) -- Women hoping to avoid depression may want to first look to their diets.
A new study finds a link between certain foods and clinical depression, meaning the kinds of inflammation caused by less healthy eating might be linked to problems beyond the waistline.
Researchers tracked 43,000 women, none of whom had depression at the beginning of the study, and found that those who ate and drank soft drinks, fatty red meat and refined grains such as pasta, white bread and chips were 29 to 41 percent more likely to be diagnosed with or treated for depression over a 12-year period.
According to the study published in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, blood tests revealed those same women had higher indicators for three biomarkers of the kind of inflammation previously linked to ailments including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.
The Harvard School of Public Health researcher Dr. Michael Lucas, who coauthored the study, said it's not clear how the inflammation is linked to mental health, only that the causes of mood disorders can be difficult to pin down. Still, the study is the latest evidence to link inflammation to depression, and the foods that seem to go hand-in-hand with both.
Lucas said the opposite is also true: foods such as olive oil, coffee, wine, carrots, sweet potatoes and leafy greens all do their part to reduce both inflammation and depression.