Food additives may act as antidepressants
February 10, 2005

BELMONT, Mass. (UPI) -- U.S. researchers said eating the right foods could produce the same benefits as taking traditional antidepressant medications.

Harvard University-affiliated researchers found omega-3 fatty acids and uridine, two naturally occurring substances in many foods -- including fish, walnuts, molasses and sugar beets -- prevented the development of depression symptoms in rats as effectively as antidepressant drugs.

The researchers examined how omega-3 and uridine affected the behavior of rats exposed to stress. Normally, rats quickly develop learned helpless behavior when tested repeatedly under stressful conditions, but rats given injections of uridine or fed a diet enriched with high amounts of omega-3 showed fewer such signs than untreated rats.

"Cultures eating diets rich in fish with high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids tend to show a lower prevalence of major depression, said Dr. Bruce Cohen, president and psychiatrist in chief for McLean Hospital. "Many elements of diet can affect the brain and could enhance or detract from this benefit."