Researchers from the National University of Singapore have found that eating mushrooms more than twice a week may slash risks for mild cognitive impairment by 50 percent.
MCI can affect the memory making people forgetful. It can also cause problems with language, attention, and locating objects in spaces.
In the study, the researchers tracked the lifestyle and diet of 663 Chinese adults who were over 60 years old. Over the six-year study period, they found a link between lower chances of developing MCI and eating mushrooms.
About nine of 100 people who ate more than two portions of mushroom per week were diagnosed of MCI. In comparison, 19 out of 100 participants who ate fewer than one portion a week were diagnosed of the condition.
“Our cross-sectional data support the potential role of mushrooms and their bioactive compounds in delaying neurodegeneration,” the researchers wrote in their study, which was published in Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
The participants ate golden, oyster, shiitake, and white button mushrooms, as well as dried and canned mushrooms. The researchers, however, think that other mushrooms also have the same beneficial effects.
Study researcher Irwin Cheah, from NUS Department of Biochemistry, said the reduced prevalence of MCI in mushroom eaters could be due to a compound known as ergothioneine (ET).
“ET is a unique antioxidant and anti-inflammatory which humans are unable to synthesise on their own,” Cheah said.
Mushrooms are also rich in antioxidants, protein, and a soluble fiber called beta glucans that helps control cholesterol levels. How people cook mushrooms, however, may affect their nutritional value.
Researchers of a 2016 study wanted to find out how various cooking methods can affect the nutritional content of mushrooms. They found that boiling and frying mushrooms may not be a good idea because these results in severe losses in antioxidant compounds and proteins.
Cooking mushrooms by microwave or grill, however, can increase antioxidant activity and polyphenol content. These cooking methods does not also cause significant losses in nutritional value.
“Microwaving and grilling were established as the best processes to maintain the nutritional profile of mushrooms,” study researcher Irene Roncero-Ramos and colleagues wrote in International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition.