Omega-3 and omega-6 content of medicinal foods for depressed patients: implications from the Iranian Traditional Medicine

Document Type : Mini Review Article


1 Department of Traditional Medicine, School of Traditional Medicine, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, I. R. Iran

2 Department of Traditional Medicine, Faculty of Traditional Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, I. R. Iran

3 Department of Pharmacognosy, Faculty of Pharmacy, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, I. R. Iran

4 Department of Nutrition, School of Medicine, Biochemistry and Nutrition, Endoscopic and Minimally Invasive Surgery and Cancer Research Centers, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, I. R. Iran

5 School of Pharmacy, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran Department of Medical Informatics, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands


Objectives: Considering the increasing prevalence of depression in modern societies and the positive effects of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on depression, this study aims to investigate the omega-3 and omega-6 content of various foodstuffs, prescribed or prohibited by Iranian Traditional Medicine (ITM).
Materials and Methods: Firstly, reliable sources of Iranian Traditional Medicine were reviewed in order to identify the prescribed and prohibited foodstuffs for depressed patients. Afterwards, according to the online database of United States Department of Agriculture (URL:, the ratio of linoleic acid to alpha linolenic acid (as representatives of omega-6 and omega-3, respectively) was identified in each foodstuff. Finally, the ratios of omega-6 to omega-3 were compared between seven food groups of vegetables, fruits, dry goods, high protein products, dairies, breads, and spices.
Results: Based on the resources of Iranian Traditional Medicine, the following foods are prescribed for depressed patients: basil, coriander, spinach, lettuce, squash, peppermint, dill, chicory, celery, beet, quince, cucumber, watermelon, grape, peach, pomegranate, banana, apple, currant, pistachio, dried fig, almond, egg, chicken, lamb, trout, milk, bread without bran,saffron, oregano, and coriander seeds. On the other hand, cabbage, eggplant, onion, garlic, broad beans, lentils, beef, whole wheat bread, and mustard are prohibited. It should be noted that omega-3 content in some prescribed foods is more than that of the prohibited ones.
Conclusion: The present study showed that mint, basil, spinach, lettuce, squash, lamb, saffron, oregano, cucumber, pistachio, milk, and also wild trout can be considered as medicinal foods for depressed patients.


Main Subjects

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