A new study has found that consuming two portions of mushrooms each week could reduce the risk of abnormal brain decline in old age by 50 per cent.
People who ate 300g or more of mushrooms (equal to a medium-sized punnet) had a low risk of developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in old age, researchers found.
Consuming smaller amounts is also beneficial, the research published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease said.
MCI lies between dementia and natural brain decline, and people suffering from it experience forgetfulness, reduced attention, and language issues.
In the research, more than 600 Chinese people aged over 60 were studied by researchers at the National University of Singapore over the course of six years.
The participants were extensively interviewed about their health and diet and were later subjected to several tests for assessing their brain activity.
Based on the assessment, they were given a ‘dementia rating’ which indicated the damage to their brains caused by aging.
The participants who used to take more than two portions of cooked mushrooms (or 300g) each week were 50 per cent less likely to have MCI, the researchers found.
‘This correlation is surprising and encouraging,’ study author Feng Lei said. ‘It seems that a commonly available single ingredient could have a dramatic effect on cognitive decline.’
People having MCI can perform their routine activities but their mental capabilities are worse than a normal person of their age.
Moreover, people with MCI are more likely to develop dementia, scientists have found.
‘We’re very interested in a compound called ergothioneine (ET),’ study author Dr Irwin Cheah said. ‘ET 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 study team named some other substances called erinacines, scabronines, dictyophorines, and hericenones which are found in mushrooms and are a stimulator of nerve growth.
The mushrooms which were mentioned in the research included dried and canned mushrooms, white button mushrooms as well as the oyster, golden, and shiitake varieties.
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