Eating a portion of fish a day could ward off depression, scientists believe.
Studies involving more than 150,000 people found that a high fish diet lowers the risk of becoming depressed by around 17 per cent. For men it was even higher, cutting the likelihood by 20 per cent.
Nearly one in five people in Britain suffers from the condition, according to the most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics.
Those who were divorced or separated were more likely to have symptoms of mild to moderate mental ill health, with 27 per cent showing signs of the conditions, compared to 20 per cent of those who were single, cohabiting or widowed.
However, consuming a diet that is high in fish could be an easy way of preventing symptoms.
Studies have suggested that the omega 3 fatty acids found inside fish may alter the production of the brain chemicals dopamine and serotonin, both of which are thought to be involved in depression.
“Higher fish consumption may be beneficial in the primary prevention of depression,” said lead author Professor Dongfeng Zhang, of the Department of Epidemiology and Health Statistics, Medical College of Qingdao University, Shandong, China.
“Future studies are needed to further investigate whether this association varies according to the type of fish.”
Researchers pooled data from studies published between 2001 and 2014 to assess the strength of the evidence on the link between fish consumption and depression risk.
A significant association emerged between those eating the most fish and a 17 per cent reduction in depression risk compared with those eating the least. This was found in both cohort and cross-sectional studies, but only for the European studies.
When they looked specifically at gender, researchers found a slightly stronger association between high fish consumption and lowered depression risk in men. Among women, the associated reduction in risk was 16 per cent.
The authors think that the highquality protein, vitamins, and minerals found in fish may help stave off depression, while eating a lot of fish may be an indicator of a healthy and more nutritious diet.