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A Spanish study has found a link between eating foods high in trans fats and the development of depression.

The findings, published in the online journal PLoS One, are based on 12,000 volunteers who were followed between six and 10 years. When the subjects were recruited, none of them suffered from the blues. By end of the study period, 657 cases of depression had been diagnosed.

When the researchers looked at the dietary habits of the participants, they found that people who ate lots of trans fats had a 48 per cent increased risk of depression compared with those who didn't eat this type of fat.

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"The more trans fats were consumed, the greater the harmful effect they produced in the volunteers," said the study's lead author, Almudena Sanchez-Villegas at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Carnaria.

Trans fats, found in many processed and fast foods, have been also blamed for boosting the odds of cardiovascular disease.

Even so, this latest study doesn't actually prove eating these unhealthy fats can trigger or exacerbate depression. It is possible that depressed individuals are simply drawn to comfort foods that sometimes contain high levels of trans fats. Further research is needed to explore the relationship between nutrition and mental health.

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