Penn State research links eating mushrooms to lower depression

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (WTAJ)– A study done by a research team from Penn State College of Medicine has found that besides being a pizza topping, mushrooms may actually help one’s mental health.

The researchers conducted a study from 2005 to 2016 with more than 24,000 adults on their diet and mental health, according to a press release. They found that people who eat mushrooms had a lower chance of depression. They have an antioxidant that could protect against cell and tissue damage called ergothioneine.

“Mushrooms are the highest dietary source of the amino acid ergothioneine — an anti-inflammatory which cannot be synthesized by humans,” said lead researcher Djibril Ba. “Having high levels of this may lower the risk of oxidative stress, which could also reduce the symptoms of depression.”

Researchers found that 66% of the people studied were college-educated, non-Hispanic white women with an average age of 45. They saw that there was a link between eating mushrooms and lower odds of depression. However, there was no additional benefit for those that would eat a lot of mushrooms in one sitting.

The research team swapped out the mushrooms in the diet for red or processed meat to see if the risk of depression would be lowered but no association was found.

This was the first major study between mushrooms and mental health. According to the researchers, this study proves the importance of mushroom consumption for means of reducing depression and other diseases.

“The study adds to the growing list of possible health benefits of eating mushrooms,” said  Penn State Cancer Institute researcher and professor of public health sciences  Joshua Muscat

Even though the study did find that mushrooms can be good for an individual’s mental health, certain kinds of mushrooms were not made known. The researchers had to use food labels from the U.S. Department of Agriculture so some could be misclassified or recorded wrong. They hope that in future studies this obstacle will be addressed.

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