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The Link Between Mushrooms and Brain Health

The Link Between Mushrooms and Brain Health

Find out the nutritional benefits of these versatile fungi.

It’s astounding how many types of mushrooms there are: In North America, over 10,000 species have been described. Out of that, around 1 percent will kill you, 20 percent will make you sick, 4 percent will be edible and tasty and the rest aren’t worth the bother, according to Mushroom, The Journal.

The edible ones do deliver great nutritional benefits: One serving of UV-raised portabellas delivers 64 percent of your daily value of vitamin D; and most shrooms, such as white button and shitake, naturally deliver a good dose of selenium and B vitamins (pantothenic acid, riboflavin and niacin). That’s not all.

A study of seniors found that having two three-quarter-cup servings of cooked mushrooms a week slashes your risk for mild cognitive impairment in half! But even one small portion weekly may provide brain benefits.

The main ingredient in mushrooms that’s brain-protective is called ergothioneine, an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound that your body cannot make on its own. Mushrooms also contain ingredients that help inhibit production of beta amyloid and phosphorylated tau—which are characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease.

So sauteed, stewed or grilled, enjoy the flavor—and nutrition boost—mushrooms deliver. Check out our recipes for Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burgers and Mushroom Rigatoni.

Medically reviewed in October 2019.

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