The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet (aka, DASH diet — click here to learn more.) is now infamous for the positive health benefits it exerts on high blood pressure and bone health. For these two reasons alone, it’s sound nutrition advice to urge you to try and follow the diet. But now researchers say there may be another benefit to the diet besides helping prevent heart disease and osteoporosis: it could help boost mood, especially in postmenopausal women.
A team of scientists at the Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition, Deakin University, Australia, compared the effect on mood of a moderate sodium DASH-type diet. In this case, the DASH diet was divided into two versions. One, termed a “vitality diet” by the researchers, included lean red meat. The other diet, called the “healthy diet” emphasized decreased fat and increased whole-grain breads and cereal.
Postmenopausal women were assigned to the vitality diet or healthy diet for 14 weeks. Mood was measured every two weeks by the research team. Forty-six participants completed the vitality diet and 49 completed the healthy diet. Both groups showed an improvement in anger, confusion, depression, fatigue, tension, and vigor. However, over the course of the study, anger improved more in the vitality diet compared with the healthy diet group. For both groups, low sodium intake was associated with a better mood.
In addition, the researchers found two more interesting results: red meat consumption was associated with a decrease in depression and an increase in fruit consumption was associated with a decrease in confusion.
Along with the health benefits of a moderate-sodium DASH diet on blood pressure and bone health, this diet seems to have had a positive effect on mood in postmenopausal women. Try the diet out, if you haven’t already — it’s likely it will provide the same health benefits for you.