Do you love mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, shiitake and other edible mushrooms? That is good news for your health. Researchers from the University of Singapore have discovered that these “vegetables” contain an amino acid that prevents memory loss.
From 2011 to 2017, the research team collected data from more than 600 Chinese seniors who ate more than 300 grams of mushrooms per week. This showed that these elderly people were 50 percent less likely to have slight forgetfulness than their peers who did not.
Surprising and hopeful
The results of this study were published last week in the medical journal Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. “This connection is surprising and hopeful,” says lead researcher Lei Feng. “It seems that a very simple food has a huge positive effect on the brain.”
Mild decline in the elderly
The researchers state that eating mushrooms prevents a mild cognitive decline. This is the phase between normal forgetfulness in the elderly and dementia. Seniors who suffer from this mild cognitive decline suffer from memory loss or forgetfulness. They also experience slight problems with spatial insight, language and concentration. “These elderly people are still perfectly capable of performing their normal daily activities. So we first had to determine whether their performance lagged behind standard neuropsychological tests compared to others of the same age and with the same educational background, ”explains Feng. “These tests are designed so that we can measure the different aspects of a person’s cognitive skills.”
Active substance in mushrooms
Mushrooms and other mushrooms contain an amino acid called ergothionein. According to the researchers, this is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent that people cannot make themselves. An earlier study showed that this substance was significantly less present in participants with a slight cognitive decline than in equally old, healthy people. Increasing its intake by eating mushrooms and other mushrooms therefore has a positive effect on the brain.