According to a new study, depression symptoms may be reduced by the consumption of various mushroom varieties. The research led by Penn State College of Medicine adds to the mounting evidence showing the health advantages of the superfood.
For the study, researchers used diet and mental health data that was previously collected from more than 24,000 U.S. adults between 2005 and 2016. Through their analysis, researchers were able to determine that people who ate mushrooms had lower odds of having depression.
Many mushroom varieties contain ergothioneine, an antioxidant that researchers believe may be the driving factor behind the protection against depression. This powerful antioxidant has been found to protect against cell and tissue damage in the body, which has previously been linked to the prevention of mental illnesses such as bipolar disease, schizophrenia, and depression.
“Mushrooms are the highest dietary source of the amino acid ergothioneine—an anti-inflammatory which cannot be synthesized by humans,” said lead researcher Djibri. “Having high levels of this may lower the risk of oxidative stress, which could also reduce the symptoms of depression.”
The study observed a significant association between mushroom consumption and lower odds of depression after accounting for socio-demographics and other major risk factors. According to researchers, non-Hispanic, college-educated white women are more likely to eat mushrooms.
White button mushrooms are the most commonly consumed variety in the U.S. This type of mushroom contains potassium, which lowers anxiety. Other species of mushrooms, especially Lion’s Mane, could stimulate the expression of neurotrophic factors such as nerve growth factor synthesis, which may affect mental disorders such as depression.
A Second Study
During this study, researchers conducted a secondary analysis to find if the risk of depression could be lowered by replacing a serving of red or processed meat with mushrooms each day. However, this was not found to have any associations with lower odds of depression.
This study is one of the first to examine the association between mushroom consumption and depression and has more than 100 participants. Previous studies have been much smaller clinical trials.
This new, more extensive study helps to highlight the potential health importance of mushroom consumption as a treatment option for depression and preventing other diseases.
For future studies, researchers have noted some limitations that could be addressed. This data did not provide details on the types of mushrooms consumed, so researchers could not determine the effects of specific mushrooms on depression. Also, food codes issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture were used to assess mushroom intake, so some records may be inaccurate.