Food and Behaviour Research

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Mediterranean-type diet is associated with higher psychological resilience in a general adult population: findings from the Moli-sani study

Bonaccio M, Di Castelnuovo A, Costanzo S, Pounis G, Persichillo M, Cerletti C, Donati MB, de Gaetano G, Iacoviello L (2018) Eur J Clin Nutr.  2018 Jan;72(1): 154-160. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2017.150. 

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Psychological resilience is a measure of stress coping ability and has been associated with favourable health outcomes. While evidence on the relationship of dietary habits with a number of psychosocial conditions is available, there is lack of studies on their association with psychological resilience in a general adult population.


Cross-sectional analysis on 10 812 subjects recruited within the cohort of the Moli-sani study (2005-2010). Psychological resilience was measured by the 25-item Connor-Davidson Psychological Resilience Scale. Food intake was recorded by the EPIC food frequency questionnaire and adherence to Mediterranean diet was appraised by both a Greek Mediterranean diet score and an Italian Mediterranean Index. Empirically derived dietary patterns were obtained by principal factor analysis. Multivariable linear regression analysis (95%CI) was used to test the association between dietary scores and psychological resilience.


Higher adherence to Mediterranean-type diets or consumption of a vegetable-based dietary pattern (obtained from principal factor analysis) were positively associated with psychological resilience (β=0.43; 95%CI: 0.19-0.66, β=0.92; 0.69-1.16, and β=1.18; 0.93-1.44, for Greek Mediterranean diet score, Italian Mediterranean Index and the 'Olive oil and vegetables pattern', respectively). Dietary polyphenol or antioxidant intakes and greater variety in fruit and vegetable consumption were also positively associated with psychological resilience, while the associations with Western-like diets were weak.


In conclusion, Mediterranean diet, vegetable-based dietary patterns and better diet quality were all positively associated with higher psychological resilience, whereas Western-type diets were not.