There's plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that a big, juicy hunk of steak makes you happier. But now there's scientific proof, too; according to a new study, consumption of red meat halves the risk of depression.
The study, carried out at Deakin University in Victoria, Australia, confirms that people who avoid red meat are at increased risk of clinical depression. Admittedly the study was only conducted in a population of women, but I'm willing to extrapolate in this case. Professor Felice Jacka, one of the researchers, explains:
"When we looked at women consuming less than the recommended amount of red meat in our study, we found that they were twice as likely to have a diagnosed depressive or anxiety disorder as those consuming the recommended amount.
"Even when we took into account the overall healthiness of the women's diets, as well as other factors such as their socioeconomic status, physical activity levels, smoking, weight and age, the relationship between low red meat intake and mental health remained.
"Interestingly, there was no relationship between other forms of protein, such as chicken, pork, fish or plant-based proteins, and mental health. Vegetarianism was not the explanation either. "
Official proof, if it were needed, that vegetarians are a bunch of sadsacks. While there's plenty of evidence that suggests that the quality of your diet is important for mental health, this is the first study to suggest that red meat has a positive effect. Sadly, the researchers have no idea why.
It's worth pointing out that red meat does bring physical health risks. In fact, recent research suggests that red meat is behind one in ten early deaths. So there's a decision to make: live long, miserable and steak-free; or die young, happy and elbow-deep in burgers. Tough call. [Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics via The Telegraph]