Can mushrooms improve your memory?

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In a recently published study, Dr nutrientsResearchers explore the connection between mushroom intake and cognitive performance.

Study: Relationship between mushroom intake and cognitive performance: an epidemiological study in the European Investigation of Cancer-Norfolk Cohort (EPIC-Norfolk).  Image credit: Troyan/Shutterstock.comStudy: Association between mushroom intake and cognitive performance: an epidemiological study in the European Investigation of Cancer-Norfolk Cohort (EPIC-Norfolk).. Image credit: Troyan/


Aging is associated with changes in behavioral and cognitive function, with declines in executive functioning, global memory, daily living skills, and mood.

Evidence implicates diet as a significant modifiable factor in reducing age-related cognitive decline, and several studies have revealed neurocognitive health benefits of various dietary components. Culinary mushrooms are a great source of fiber, protein, phytochemicals and vitamins.

Bioactive compounds in mushrooms have been described as anti-inflammatory agents, promoting neurogenesis and regulating neurotransmitter release. Evidence from epidemiological studies suggests a positive association between consumption of plant-rich foods, including mushrooms, and cognitive outcomes.

Yet, these studies often did not specifically investigate mushroom consumption. Furthermore, studies that have specifically investigated mushroom consumption have been mainly among Asian cohorts.

About the study

The present study examined the relationship between mushroom consumption and cognitive performance in a Western cohort.

They analyzed data from the Epidemiological Study of European Investigation of Cancer (EPIC) – Norfolk Cohort that recruited more than 30,000 individuals aged 40–92 years in Norfolk, UK.

Participants were enrolled since 1993 and underwent several follow-up health examinations. The researchers used food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) data from the first three follow-up health examinations (1HC). [1997-98]2HC [1998-2000]and 3HC [2004-11]) examining changes in mushroom consumption over time.

The association between mushroom intake and cognitive performance was investigated using data from the 3HC only.

The 3HC includes a series of cognitive tests as part of a neurocognitive battery (EPIC-COG) that assess attention, reading, executive function and task, visuospatial, and prospective memory.

Dietary intake was assessed using a semi-quantitative FFQ, in which participants rated their intake of individual foods across major categories (vegetables, fruit, bread, pasta, fish, meat, sweets, dairy products, beverages, sweets and sauces).

Participants specified their frequency of use as one portion/day, four to five portions/day, one portion/week, two to four portions/week, five to six portions/week, never or less than once/month, and up to three portions. /month.

These categorical data were used to calculate mean mushroom intake and results were reported as portions/week.

Accounting for age in multivariate analysis of covariance, cognitive performance differences were examined across four intake categories (one portion/month or never, one to three portions/month, one portion/week, and more than one portion/week) for each cognitive domain. , gender, body mass index (BMI), physical activity. The group additionally adjusted for daily fruit and vegetable intake.


Of the 8,263 participants, more than 59% reported their mushroom intake frequency at all three-time points.

Average weekly mushroom consumption was significantly different between time points. Average weekly intake of mushrooms decreased significantly from 1.42 portions in 1HC to 1.34 and 1.3 portions in 2HC and 3HC, respectively.

Furthermore, the proportion of mushroom consumers and non-consumers differed significantly between time points. The proportion of non-consumers has increased significantly over time.

Approximately 5,418 participants reported their mushroom frequency consumption and had EPIC-COG test scores. Most subjects were white (99.7%) and cognitively healthy.

About 65% were obese or overweight and about 83% were regular consumers of mushrooms. There was a significant association between mushroom consumption and cognitive function.

Significant main effects of MUSHROOM were observed for individual cognitive measures, except for complex visuospatial memory and paired learning tests.

Further, data on daily intake of fruits and vegetables were available for 5,272 participants. The association between cognitive function and mushroom consumption was still significant when daily intake of fruits and vegetables was accounted for. Significant main effects of mushroom were evident on individual cognitive measures except visual memory tasks.


The study investigated the association between consumption rates and mushroom consumption and cognitive function in the EPIC-Norfolk cohort.

The proportion of mushroom consumers showed a significant decrease over time. Mushroom consumption was positively correlated with cognitive performance including executive function, word recall and prospective memory.

Furthermore, the association remained statistically significant after accounting for fruit and vegetable intake.

A causal hypothesis could not be established due to the cross-sectional design of the study; The relationship may also be susceptible to reverse causality. Therefore, randomized controlled trials are needed to determine causality and directionality.

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