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Eating mushrooms may significantly reduce the risk of cognitive decline, according to a six-year-old study from the National University of Singapore (NUS).
Researchers found consuming two portions (150g) of common fungi weekly reduced chances of having mild cognitive impairment (MCI) by 50 percent.
The study also showed that eating even one small portion of mushrooms a week may still ‘be beneficial to reduce the chances of MCI’.
NUS News states that: “MCI is typically viewed as the stage between the cognitive decline of normal aging and the more serious decline of dementia.
Seniors afflicted with MCI often display some form of memory loss or forgetfulness and may also show a deficit in other cognitive functions such as language, attention, and visuospatial abilities”
The study referenced golden, oyster, shiitake, and white button mushrooms, but researchers believe other varieties of fungi will hold the same benefits to MCI.
‘This correlation is surprising’
Lead author of the study, and assistant professor for NUS, Feng Lei, said: “This correlation is surprising and encouraging. It seems that a commonly available single ingredient could have a dramatic effect on cognitive decline.”
The researchers believe the reason for the reduced prevalence of MCI in those that consumed mushroom weekly could be due to a compound called ergothioneine (ET) – a naturally occurring amino acid found in mushrooms.
Dr. Irwin Cheah, a senior researcher from NUS Biochemistry, said: “ET is a unique antioxidant and anti-inflammatory which humans are unable to synthesize on their own. But it can be obtained from dietary sources, one of the main ones being mushrooms.”