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Eating French fries and other fried foods linked to higher risk of anxiety and depression

Apr. 28, 2023 Medical News Today

Anxiety and depression are the most prevalent mental disorders worldwide. 

Fried foods are a major part of the Western diet and are increasing worldwide. Previous studies have found that consuming fried or processed foods, sugary products, and beer is linked to a higher risk of depression and anxiety.

Research also shows that the frying process may change the nutrient composition of foods and produce harmful chemicals. Frying carbohydrates such as potatoes, for example, generate acrylamide, which has been linked to obesity, metabolic syndrome, and neurological disorders.

Until now, few studies have investigated how acrylamide may affect anxiety and depression. Further investigation of this link could inform public health policy and dietary interventions for mental health conditions. 

Recently, researchers investigated the link between fried foods consumption and depression and anxiety. They found that fried food consumption, especially fried potatoes, is linked to an increased risk of anxiety and depression. Was this helpful?

They further found that acrylamide plays an important role in the development of anxiety and depression in adult zebrafish. 

The study was published in the journal PNAS. 

Analyzing the effect of fried food 

To begin, the researchers analyzed data from 140,728 people from the UK Biobank. Data included fried food consumption and incidence of anxiety and depression during an average follow-up period of 11.3 years. 

By the end of the study period, the researchers identified 8,294 cases of anxiety and 12,735 cases of depression. 

Overall, they found that those consuming more than one serving of fried food per day had a 12% higher risk of anxiety and a 7% higher risk for depression than non-consumers. 

Frequent consumers of fried food were most likely to be males, younger and active smokers. 

Next, the researchers investigated possible mechanisms for the link between fried food and depression and anxiety. 

To do so, they observed how chronic exposure to acrylamide affected zebrafish over time. They found that exposing fish to low concentrations of acrylamide induced anxiety-like and depression-like behavior.

From further tests, the researchers found that acrylamide reduced lipid metabolism, induced neuroinflammation, and impaired the permeability of the blood-brain barrier.

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