Depression is one of the most common psychiatric disorders around the world. In fact, based on estimation, 5% of adults suffer from depressive disorder worldwide, and it will be ranked third among disorders contributing to the global burden of disease by 2030.
Moreover, depression is suggested to be the most frequent cause of emotional suffering in later life and significantly decreases the quality of life in older adults.
Further research in “BMC Psychiatry” has indicated that our dietary choices can have an impact on the development or worsening of depression.
Eggs, known for their high-quality protein content, vitamins, and beneficial components such as omega-3 fatty acids, have been linked to improved mood and mental well-being.
Surprisingly, eggs may prove to be helpful in combating depression. A recent survey discovered that individuals who consume three or more eggs per week have a 38% lower risk of developing depression compared with those who do not include eggs in their diet.
This study, which involved more than 8 000 elderly participants over a span of six years, found a significant correlation between egg consumption and a reduced risk of depressive symptoms.
In fact, with each additional egg consumed, the risk of depressive symptoms dropped by 4%.
Depression is a debilitating condition characterised by persistent sadness and a negative effect on a person’s quality of life.
It is currently ranked as the third leading cause of the global disease burden by the World Health Organization. In South Africa alone, it is a harsh reality for nearly 40% of individuals, according to a local survey.
While therapy and medication play a crucial role in managing depression, emerging evidence suggests that a healthy diet can also contribute to reducing the risk of depression.
Incorporating eggs into our meals might be a simple yet effective step towards enhancing mood and overall mental well-being.
So, what makes eggs in particular an antidote for depression?
Drawing from a multitude of studies, the South African Poultry Association (SAPA) explains the reasons why including eggs into our diets is advantageous for our general well-being, particularly for our mental well-being.
To start with, eggs contain 7g of high-quality protein. Proteins are made up of building blocks called amino acids.
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid found in eggs, known to have antidepressant benefits. This is because tryptophan influences the production of our feel-good hormone serotonin, the same hormone produced after a good exercise session.
Eggs also contain choline, a nutrient used to make the brain chemical (neurotransmitter) called acetylcholine that helps brain cells communicate with each other.
This chemical is also responsible for memory and mood, which is why choline gets attention for contributing to brain health.
Eggs are rich in carotenoids, the nutrients that give egg yolk its golden colour. In 2022, a large study reported that carotenoids are protective against depressive symptoms and that incorporating more carotenoids in one’s diet may help in reducing the risk of depressive symptoms.
Last but not least is vitamin D. Egg yolk makes up a handful of foods that naturally contain vitamin D.
One large egg (60g) contains almost one-third of our daily vitamin D needs. It appears that vitamin D regulates some of the pathways linked to the progression of depression.