New study shows that eating mushrooms may cut risk of cognitive decline in half.
There is no single miracle food that can dramatically improve your health. However, there are many foods that can make a profound impact by offering high doses of nutrients that our bodies cannot produce themselves. Mushrooms are one type of food that has shown promising results in the mental health department, following a study from the National University of Singapore published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Mushrooms and cognitive impairment
The study included a test group of about 600 individuals and took place over a period of 6 years. Participants were divided based on the amounts of fresh mushrooms they consumed daily. Groups that consumed more than two servings of mushrooms per day—one serving was defined as ¾ cups of cooked mushrooms—had 50% fewer cases of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) than other groups.
MCI is a condition that describes mental health degeneration commonly associated with the aging process. While individuals with MCI may live independently, they will have difficulty completing various tasks or processing information. In the study, MCI was measured with the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, which includes an interview and IQ test along with several basic physical assessments, such as hand grip and blood pressure measurements.
The magic of mushrooms
Researchers have pinpointed one possible compound found in mushrooms that may be responsible for their effect on cognitive decline: ergothioneine (ET). This compound is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant that is not produced in the human body, so it must be derived through dietary sources. Other compounds found in mushrooms can also inhibit neural degeneration by blocking the production of certain chemicals in the brain. So, the next steps in research include identifying which compounds are responsible for these effects and determining if they may be synthesized for more effective age-related mental healthcare.
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