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New research finds that older people who ate mushrooms twice a week were 50% less likely to have mild cognitive impairment.
People often ask me if mushrooms have a lot of nutritional benefit. We always hear about the extraordinary superpowers of kale and blueberries and their dazzling cousins, but what about the humble mushrooms?
So I'm here to tell you this: Eat mushrooms! They are superstars.
I first discovered this profound wisdom in 2017, when researchers discovered that mushrooms have remarkably high amounts of two possible antioxidants. And now, new research from the National University of Singapore backs it up.
In a six-year study, researchers found that older adults who ate just two servings of cooked mushrooms a week were half as likely (compared to those who ate mushrooms less than once a week) to have cognitive decline mild (MCI). The association was independent of age, sex, education, cigarette smoking, alcohol use, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, physical activities, and social activities.
The Alzheimer's Association describes MCI as a "mild but noticeable and measurable decline in cognitive abilities, including memory and the ability to think," and notes that a person with MCI is at increased risk of developing Alzheimer's or another dementia.
A serving was defined as about three-quarters of a cup of cooked mushrooms with an average weight of 150 grams (five ounces). Which is quite remarkable; Many times, studies like this use extracts, or the amount consumed is unrealistic. Here, they found that even a small serving of mushrooms per week can be beneficial in reducing the chances of MCI.
The study ran from 2011 to 2017 and was based on data from more than 600 Chinese seniors aged 60 and over living in Singapore. The research included six popular mushrooms (shown above), including golden, oyster, shiitake, and white button mushrooms, as well as dried and canned mushrooms. However, the University notes, other mushrooms are likely to have beneficial effects as well.
As previous researchers have surmised, the team believes that the magic here is due to a specific compound found in almost all varieties. "We are very interested in a compound called ergothionein (ET)," says Dr. Irwin Cheah, principal investigator in the Department of Biochemistry at NUS. “ET is a unique antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that humans cannot synthesize on their own. But it can be obtained from dietary sources, one of the main ones being mushrooms ”.
And while at this point the relationship between fungi and cognitive health is still causal, an earlier study by the team found that plasma ET levels in participants with MCI were much lower than healthy individuals of the same age. That research led to the idea that increasing ET consumption through mushroom consumption could promote cognitive health.
“This correlation is surprising and encouraging. It appears that a single commonly available ingredient could have a dramatic effect on cognitive decline, ”says assistant professor Lei Feng, from the NUS Department of Psychological Medicine.
The next step the researchers hope to take is to conduct a randomized controlled trial to assess phytonutrients as the relationship of ET to cognitive health. "These intervention studies will lead to a more solid conclusion about the causal relationship," says the University ... even though I am already sold.
The research was published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. For more information, visit the newsroom of the National University of Singapore.
Melissa Breyer. Article in English