Mediterranean Diet and its Benefits on Health and Mental Health: A Literature Review

Antonio Ventriglio1, *
, Federica Sancassiani2
, Maria Paola Contu3, Mariateresa Latorre1, Melanie Di Salvatore1, Michele Fornaro4
, Dinesh Bhugra5

1 Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Foggia, Foggia, Italy
2 Dipartimento di Scienze Mediche e Sanità Pubblica, Università degli Studi di Cagliari, Cagliari, Italy
3 Dipartimento di Scienze Chirurgiche, Università degli Studi di Cagliari, Cagliari, Italy
4 Department of Neuroscience, Reproductive Science and Odontostomatology, School of Medicine 'Federico II' Naples, Naples, Italy.
5 Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College, London, UK

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© 2020 Ventriglio et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Dipartimento di Medicina Clinica e Sperimentale; Università degli Studi di Foggia - 71121 Foggia - Italy; Tel: 0881732221; E-mail:


Mediterranean Diet (MD) is currently considered one of the most healthy dietary models worldwide. It is generally based on the daily intake of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, fish, white meats, and olive oil. It may also include moderate consumption of fermented dairy products, a low intake of red meat, and red/white wine during the main course. Even if the effect of MD on cancer prevention as well as on human metabolic and cardiovascular balance has been discussed, including the quality of life of the exposed population, the putative effects on mental health are still not properly investigated. This narrative review reports on some emerging pieces of evidence on the possible impact of MD on general health and the outcome of psychiatric disorders (e.g., major depression, anxiety) and encourages further studies to test the benefits of healthy food selection on the health of the general population.

Keywords: Mediterranean Diet, Health, Mental Health, Depression, Anxiety, Cancer.