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Diet with Mushrooms May Protect You from Depression

Loading your diet with mushrooms may cut your chance of being diagnosed with depression. Will you eat them on pizza or in stir-fry?
Diet with Mushrooms May Protect You from Depression
Edible mushrooms on a green background, white mushroom. Collect forest mushrooms. Autumn harvest of mushrooms.

Mushroom lovers, rejoice! A diet with mushrooms appears to offer you a lower risk of developing depression and other mental illness.

Advantages of a Diet with Mushrooms:

Penn State scientists evaluated data collected between 2005 and 2016 on 24,000 American adults (Journal of Affective Disorders, Nov. 2021). They used detailed dietary records and information on the participants’ mental health status. Mushrooms are an excellent source of an amino acid called ergothioneine that has strong antioxidant activity. Scientists suspect that this compound might help explain some benefits of a diet with mushrooms.

The analysis revealed that people who ate mushrooms frequently were less likely to be diagnosed with depression. Statistical adjustments for risk factors such as demographics and medication use did not weaken the association. The study highlights the potential benefit of eating more mushrooms.

These are ordinary edible mushrooms of the sort you might put on your pizza or throw into a quick stir-fried dish. Previous research has focused on medicinal mushrooms against depression (Mini Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry, 2020). Some studies have found that lion’s mane mushroom can ease depression. However, many groceries do not carry Hericium erinaceus. If you find lion’s mane at the farmers’ market, you might want to try some (International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Dec. 25, 2019).

In addition, some studies have identified psilocybin from magic mushrooms as having antidepressant activity. However, this compound calls for a carefully designed therapeutic setting and process. You would not want to add magic mushrooms to your diet.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
Citations
  • Ba DM et al, "Mushroom intake and depression: A population-based study using data from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2005–2016." Journal of Affective Disorders, Nov. 2021. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2021.07.080
  • Lew SY et al, "Discovering the potentials of medicinal mushrooms in combating depression - A review." Mini Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry, 2020. DOI: 10.2174/1389557520666200526125534
  • Chong PS et al, "Therapeutic potential of Hericium erinaceus for depressive disorder." International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Dec. 25, 2019. DOI: 10.3390/ijms21010163
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