Eating only half a cup of mushrooms a day could reduce the risk of developing Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), a condition that afflicts thousands of senior citizens and can turn into dementia, the researchers found.
The discovery was made by a group from the Department of Psychological Medicine and the Department of Biochemistry of the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine in Singapore.
The researchers spent six years studying over 600 Chinese seniors over the age of 60 who lived in Singapore and found that the chances of developing MCI were halved in those who ate half a plate of mushrooms weekly. And while half of the dish, or 300 grams of mushrooms, was the recommended amount, there were still significant benefits in participants who consumed only a small portion a week.
The MCI is a condition in which people have more memory problems than normal for their age, noted the Alzheimer's Foundation of America. About 65% of individuals living with MCI will subsequently develop dementia during their lifetime.
In light of this, researchers at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine wanted to see if increasing the consumption of an antioxidant called ergothionein (ET), obtained through food sources such as mushrooms, could fight the MCI. Their belief is that a lack of ET could contribute to neurodegeneration. Therefore, increasing the intake of ET through the consumption of mushrooms could promote cognitive health.
Six fungi commonly consumed in Singapore were referenced in the 2011-2017 study and promising results were published online in the Journal of Alzheimer & # 39; s Disease on March 12, 2019.
"This correlation is surprising and encouraging: it appears that a single commonly available ingredient could have a dramatic effect on cognitive decline," said Assistant Professor Lei Feng, lead author of the study.
The researchers will now perform a randomized controlled trial with the pure compound of ET and other plant-based ingredients to determine the effectiveness of these phytonutrients in delaying cognitive decline. Feng and his team hope to identify other dietary factors that could be associated with healthy brain aging and the reduced risk of age-related conditions in the future.
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