Intake of Mediterranean foods associated with positive affect and low negative affect

J Psychosom Res. 2013 Feb;74(2):142-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2012.11.002. Epub 2012 Nov 22.


Objective: To examine associations between consumption of foods typical of Mediterranean versus Western diets with positive and negative affect. Nutrients influence mental states yet few studies have examined whether foods protective or deleterious for cardiovascular disease affect mood.

Methods: Participants were 9255 Adventist church attendees in North America who completed a validated food frequency questionnaire in 2002-6. Scores for affect were obtained from the positive and negative affect schedule questionnaire in 2006-7. Multiple linear regression models controlled for age, gender, ethnicity, BMI, education, sleep, sleep squared (to account for high or low amounts), exercise, total caloric intake, alcohol and time between the questionnaires.

Results: Intake of vegetables (β=0.124 [95% CI 0.101, 0.147]), fruit (β=0.066 [95% CI 0.046, 0.085]), olive oil (β=0.070 [95% CI 0.029, 0.111]), nuts (β=0.054 [95% CI 0.026, 0.082]), and legumes (β=0.055 [95% CI 0.032, 0.077]) were associated with positive affect while sweets/desserts (β=-0.066 [95% CI -0.086, -0.046]), soda (β=-0.025 [95% CI -0.037, -0.013]) and fast food frequency (β=-0.046 [95% CI -0.062, -0.030]) were inversely associated with positive affect. Intake of sweets/desserts (β=0.058 [95% CI 0.037, 0.078]) and fast food frequency (β=0.052 [95% CI 0.036, 0.068]) were associated with negative affect while intake of vegetables (β=-0.076 [95% CI -0.099, -0.052]), fruit (β=-0.033 [95% CI -0.053, -0.014]) and nuts (β=-0.088 [95% CI -0.116, -0.060]) were inversely associated with negative affect. Gender interacted with red meat intake (P<.001) and fast food frequency (P<.001) such that these foods were associated with negative affect in females only.

Conclusions: Foods typical of Mediterranean diets were associated with positive affect as well as lower negative affect while Western foods were associated with low positive affect in general and negative affect in women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect / physiology*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Diet, Mediterranean*
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Female
  • Food*
  • Fruit
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vegetables