Eating mushrooms may reduce the risk for mild cognitive impairment, or M.C.I., a type of memory impairment that is often a precursor of Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers in Singapore used data on 663 Chinese men and women over 60. None had memory or thinking problems at the start of the study. In one-on-one interviews, they recorded diet information, including questions about six types of commonly consumed mushrooms. They assessed cognitive function with detailed structured interviews and widely used tests of mental acuity. Over the six-year study, 90 in the group developed M.C.I.
After controlling for many health, behavioral and socioeconomic factors, including the consumption of meat, green vegetables, fruits and nuts, they found that compared with those who consumed less than one five-ounce portion of mushrooms a week, those who consumed one to two portions had a 43 percent reduced risk for M.C.I. People who ate more than two portions had a 52 percent reduced risk. The study is in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
The reasons for the association are not clear, but mushrooms contain various antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances that may inhibit the buildup in the brain of amyloid beta and tau, proteins that are hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.
Based on this and previous studies, the authors conclude, “mushroom consumption could be a potential preventive measure to slow cognitive decline and neurodegeneration in the elderly.”
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