In a new study, researchers found that those who eat tomatoes two to six times a week were 46 per cent less likely to suffer the blues than those eating them less than once a week.
Eating them every day slashed the risk by 52 per cent, according to the study.
But other fruits and vegetables do not have the same benefits. Eating healthy foods like cabbage, carrots, onions and pumpkins appeared to have little or no effect on psychological well-being, the study found.
Tomatoes are good source of lycopene, an antioxidant that gives them their deep red colour and has been linked with reducing the risk of prostate cancer and heart attacks.
The team of researchers from China and Japan, led by Dr Kaijun Niu from China’s Tianjin Medical University, wanted to investigate preliminary reports that lycopene might also promote psychological and well as physical health by reducing oxidative stress, or damage to healthy brain cells.
They analysed the mental health records and dietary habits of just under 1,000 elderly Japanese men and women aged 70 or over.
The researchers said they cannot be sure if lycopene in tomatoes directly affects the mind, or whether it simply protects against the depression caused when people develop potentially fatal diseases like cancer.
“These results suggest that a tomato-rich diet may have a beneficial effect on the prevention of depressive symptoms. In contrast, no relationship was observed with intake of other kinds of vegetables,” the Daily Mail quoted the researchers as writing in a report on the findings published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.