Against sadness and depression? Eat mushrooms! Yes, because mushrooms, through different mechanisms, seem to be able to protect the brain and keep depression at bay. This emerges from a very recent scientific research published in the Journal of Affective Disorders by an American team of the Penn State College of Medicine (Ba et al, Journal of Affective Disorders, 2021).
The researchers analyzed the lifestyle habits and mental health conditions of 24699 people, average age 45. What emerged was that those who consumed 5 grams of mushrooms per day were less likely to develop depression than those who did not consume mushrooms or consumed less. On the other hand, consuming higher amounts of mushrooms, even 20 grams per day, did not lead to additional benefits.
How mushrooms protect against depression
Researchers explain what they observed with the different mechanisms of action of mushrooms. In particular, mushrooms contain ergothioneine. Indeed, they are the richest food source of this substance. Ergothioneine is an antioxidant that protects cells and tissues of the body from free radical damage. Antioxidants also protect the brain from certain conditions such as depression. Champignon mushrooms provide potassium, which is a substance considered capable of reducing anxiety. In the form of a supplement it is also possible to find the Hericium erinaceus mushroom, also called monkey head or lion's mane mushroom, which is able to stimulate the synthesis of certain neutrophic factors such as nerve growth factor that can help prevent conditions such as depression.