Brain: mushrooms would protect against cognitive decline

It has been known for a while now that edible mushrooms are nutritious and particularly rich in antioxidants. But researchers are now interested in their beneficial effects on the brain.

These are neither vegetables nor plants: mushrooms are a category apart, called "fungal". They would contain a large amount of dietary fiber, antioxidants and proteins, as well as vitamins and minerals, whether grown or wild. Highly appreciated in the world's cuisine, they still have not given us all their secrets ... Indeed, researchers at the National University of Singapore have discovered that incorporating mushrooms into our diet - even in small portions - would decrease risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

MCI is characterized by mild memory disorders and language and orientation issues. If this disorder is only slightly handicapping, it is often a forerunner of Alzheimer's disease. To prove that fungi would preserve mild cognitive impairment, the researchers conducted a new study in Singapore for 6 years. Their conclusions were published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

The risks of cognitive decline divided by two

Conducted from 2011 to 2017, the study included 663 participants aged 60 and over. The researchers focused on eating some of the most common fungi eaten in Singapore: golden mushrooms, Oyster mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, white mushrooms, dried mushrooms and canned mushrooms.

The team defined a portion of mushrooms cooked at 150 grams. To evaluate the link between mushroom consumption and risk of MCI, the researchers also measured the cognitive abilities some participants. For this, they relied on standard neuropsychological tests as well as commonly used IQ tests. After analyzing the results, the researchers found that eating more than two servings of cooked mushrooms a week could reduce by half the risk of MCI!

An explanation in the composition of the mushroom

The author of the study, Professor Lei Feng, was himself surprised to have such encouraging results. According to the team of researchers, there could be an explanation in the composition of mushrooms: there are ergothioneine (ET), "an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory unique that humans are unable to synthesize by themselves, "say the researchers.A previous study has already hypothesized that the ET could have a direct effect on the risk of cognitive decline.In a future study, researchers will therefore conduct controlled trials to test the effect of ET on brain health - and particular on the MCI.

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