Eating more mushrooms could help to fight off a decline in brain function later in life



  • According to a study by the National University of Singapore, seniors who eat more than two standard portions of mushrooms per week may be 50% less likely to suffer mild cognitive impairment.

  • The study was conducted from 2011 to 2017 and published on Tuesday March 12.

  • The effect is thought to be down to ergothioneine, an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory humans can't synthesise independently.

It's common knowledge that mushrooms are packed with a nutritional punch — but did you know that this everyday food item may be able to lower the risk of cognitive decline in older people too?

According to a study by the National University of Singapore (NUS), seniors who eat more than two standard portions of mushrooms — equivalent to 300g or half a plate — per week may have 50% reduced odds of having mild cognitive impairment.

This could be because of the presence of a specific compound called ergothioneine found in almost all mushroom varieties, according to Dr Irwin Cheah, senior research fellow from NUS Biochemistry.

Dr Cheah said: "ET (ergothioneine) is a unique antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, which humans are unable to synthesise on their own. But it can be obtained from dietary sources, one of the main ones being mushrooms."

The NUS study stated that seniors with mild cognitive impairment display subtle symptoms of memory loss or forgetfulness, as well as a deficit in other cognitive functions such as language, attention, and visuospatial abilities.

The study was conducted from 2011 to 2017 and published on Tuesday March 12. It referenced six commonly consumed mushrooms — namely golden, oyster, shiitake and white button mushrooms, as well as dried and canned mushrooms. Read more here.

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