Mushrooms have traditionally been used in eastern cultures for thousands of years. They are a rich source of vitamins and minerals (such as vitamin B12, selenium & copper), bioactive compounds (such as beta glucans), and potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. While the fabulous fungi are known for their many health benefits such as immune health, new research reveals that they may also benefit a person’s mental health. Penn State researchers used data on diet and mental health collected from more than 24,000 U.S. adults between 2005 and 2016 and found that people who ate mushrooms had lower odds of depression. Researchers believe it may be attributed to ergothioneine; a rare amino acid found in mushrooms that humans cannot synthesize. In fact, mushrooms are the by far the highest dietary source of ergothioneine. According to the lead researcher in the study, ergothioneine’s potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may help protect against cell and tissue damage in the body and lower the risk of oxidative stress, which could also reduce the symptoms of depression. Previous studies have shown that antioxidants help prevent several mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression. Bottom-line, don’t forget to invite the mushroom to your next party, he’s more than just a fun-gi (fun guy)!
(1) Ba, Djibril M., et al. “Mushroom Intake and Depression: A Population-Based Study Using Data from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2005–2016.” Journal of Affective Disorders, vol. 294, 2021, pp. 686–692., https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2021.07.080
(2) Beelman, Robert B., et al. “Is Ergothioneine a ‘Longevity Vitamin’ Limited in the American Diet?” Journal of Nutritional Science, vol. 9, 2020, https://doi.org/10.1017/jns.2020.44.
(3) FACLM, Michael Greger M.D. “Ergothioneine: A New Vitamin?” NutritionFacts.org, 12 Nov. 2012, https://nutritionfacts.org/video/ergothioneine-a-new-vitamin/?gclid=Cj0KCQiA-K2MBhC-ARIsAMtLKRuLKFEgq3JlQKAJhdm1gPxeiR9CdaPDxItxLDC9s9TfO1wF5-E1RNMaAn_GEALw_wcB.
(4) 21, June, and Jody Bergeron Jody Bergeron. “Magnificent Mushrooms.” American Society for Nutrition, 21 June 2019, https://nutrition.org/magnificent-mushrooms/.