Consuming mushrooms may help decrease risk of cognitive decline

Consuming two portions of mushrooms per week might decrease the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a new study suggests.

MCI, a stage between common cognitive decline caused by normal aging and the more severe decline of dementia, is characterized by disruption in memory, language, thinking, and judgment.

In the study, conducted by researchers at the National University of Singapore (NUS), 663 adults over the age of 60, underwent health and cognitive exams, in addition to standard neuropsychological assessments, measuring symptoms of dementia, while also taking into account demographic information, medical history, and dietary habits.

“People with MCI are still able to carry out their normal daily activities. So, what we had to determine in this study is whether these seniors had poorer performance on standard neuropsychologist tests than other people of the same age and education background,” said Lei Feng, lead author of the study.

Participants who consumed no less than two portions of mushrooms per week had shown a decrease in the risk of developing MCI compared to their counterpart, the study found. “Compared with participants who consumed mushrooms less than once per week, participants who consumed mushrooms 2 portions per week had reduced odds of having MCI and this association was independent of age, gender, education, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, physical activities, and social activities,” according to the findings.

“Our cross-sectional data support the potential role of mushrooms and their bioactive compounds in delaying neurodegeneration.”

Researchers determined its potential beneficiary effects in reducing the risk of MCI due to several compounds found in mushrooms, including hericenones, ergothioneine, erinacines, dictyophorines, and scabronines, all of which may help promote the synthesis of nerve growth factors.

“Mushroom consumption could be a potential preventive measure to slow cognitive decline and neurodegeneration in the elderly,” researchers concluded.

The findings were published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.