There is not any doubt that the mushrooms have much to offer, with uses that go beyond their amazing flavor. You may already know what the nutritional benefits of mushrooms are, their ability to serve as a meat substitute, their ability to help prevent cognitive decline, their low environmental footprint, and even their use in a skincare.
New research has also been reported that certain mushrooms contain cancer-fighting antioxidant properties and help support a robust immune system response to inflammation, infections, and abnormal cell growth. As if that was not enough, did you know that eating mushrooms might also have powerful effects on our mental health? And no, we aren’t talking about “magic mushrooms”. We are talking about the plain old culinary mushrooms—the type you saute up for a stir fry or place in your risotto.
Recent research conducted by a group of scientists from Penn State College of Medicine had taken data from the National Health and Nutrition Survey, that was collected from over 24,000 American adults from 2005 to 2016 and observed two days of dietary recall to determine how often participants were eating mushrooms. The authors had then compared how often they ate mushrooms with reported levels of depression. Researchers discovered that participants who had reported consuming moderate-to-high amounts of mushrooms during the course of the two days had decreased their chances of being depressed, as compared to participants who ate very little or no mushrooms at all.
Their research confirmed their hypothesis that individuals who eat mushrooms have a reduced risk of depression. This is due to their higher levels of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory components, and vitamin B-12. “Mushrooms are one of the highest dietary sources of the amino acid ergothioneine, which is an anti-inflammatory agent which can’t be synthesized by scientists,” says top scientist Djibril Ba. Inflammation has been connected to depression, as well as many other chronic illnesses. Building on past small clinical trials that have indicated reductions in both anxiety and depression among regular mushroom eaters, the data is very promising for people that are searching for nutritional solutions to prevent and treat mood disorders.
Why are mushrooms helpful for fighting depression and anxiety?
So, what makes mushrooms so helpful in the quest for enhancing our mental health? Shapiro says that in general, culinary mushrooms are rich with the nutrients that help support optimal mood, although certain benefits depend on the variety. “White button mushrooms, which are the most common, are rich in potassium, which might help lower anxiety,” she says. As we said earlier, mushrooms are also a great source of ergothioneine, an antioxidant that helps prevent tissue and cell damage which research has shown may prevent depression and mental illness. Shapiro explains that ergothioneine can’t be made in in the human body, so we must consume it externally. Also, mushrooms are a good source of vitamin D, which can lower inflammation and improve mood.
Author: Blake Ambrose