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  • A six-year study suggests that seniors who eat more than two portions of mushrooms a week may have 50% reduced odds of experiencing mild cognitive decline.
  • Furthermore, even just one small portion of mushrooms a week could prove beneficial and reduce these odds.
  • The research team reached this conclusion after analyzing data from more than 600 seniors, which included their medical history, psychological factors, dietary factors, height and weight, cognition and additional factors.
  • The team noted that six mushrooms in specific were commonly eaten by these seniors: shiitake, golden, oyster, white button, dried, and canned.
  • They believe that a specific antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, ergothioneine, leads to these cognitive benefits and hope to soon identify other dietary factors that can improve or support brain health in seniors.

Quick Summary

A new study “The association between mushroom consumption and mild cognitive impairment: A community-based cross-sectional study in Singapore” from the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine at the National University of Singapore (NUS) says that seniors who eat more than two standard portions of mushrooms each week may have 50% reduced odds of experiencing mild cognitive decline. Furthermore, even just one small portion of mushrooms a week may help to reduce these odds.

Researchers describe a standard portion size as ¾ of a cup of cooked mushrooms, which weigh around 150 grams. Two standard portions are equal to about half a plate.

Goals and Investigation

This six-year study analyzed data from more than 600 Chinese seniors who were 60 years or older. The research team conducted interviews, which questioned these seniors about their demographics, medical history, psychological factors, and diet. Additionally, nurses measured the seniors’ blood pressure, height, weight, walking speed, and hand grip, and screened for cognition, depression, and anxiety. Finally, the seniors completed a two-hour neuropsychological assessment.

Results

The researchers were surprised to find that mushroom eaters experienced a significantly reduced prevalence of mild cognitive impairment. Six specific mushrooms were commonly consumed by these seniors: shiitake, golden, oyster, white button, dried, and canned mushrooms.

The team believes that a unique antioxidant and anti-inflammatory found in these mushrooms, ergothioneine (ET), is responsible for the reduced prevalence of mild cognitive impairment. Researchers point to an earlier study they conducted which found that individuals with mild cognitive impairment had lower levels of ET than healthy individuals of the same age. They believe that an ET deficiency may lead to brain conditions and that mushroom consumption can help to reverse the effect.

This research suggests that seniors can benefit from eating more mushrooms. More specifically, increasing mushroom consumption could reduce their odds of experiencing mild cognitive impairment. The research team hopes to identify other foods or dietary factors that could improve or maintain brain health in seniors.

Limitations

  • There is need for further research, as this study is the first to come to this surprising conclusion.
  • The researchers note that there are additional stages of research they want to complete including a randomized controlled trial with the pure ET compound.

Sources

Feng, L., Cheah, I., & et al (2019, March 12). The Association between Mushroom Consumption and Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Community-Based Cross-Sectional Study in Singapore. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. Retrieved from https://content.iospress.com/articles/journal-of-alzheimers-disease/jad180959

 

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