Mushroom identified as new superfood in fight against Alzheimer's

29 January 2017

Forget goji berries and kale; the new superfood identified by scientists is the humble mushroom.

Whether you stuff them, add them to salads, or even top your pizza with them, now’s the time to get more mushrooms in your diet, as scientists have discovered they can protect you from Alzheimer's disease.

A team from the University of Malaysia looked at the effects of 11 different edible and medicinal mushroom on mice and rats. Results showed that each mushroom increased production of the nerve growth factor (NGF), a neurotrophic factor and neuropeptide primarily involved in the regulation of growth, maintenance, proliferation, and survival of certain target neurons.

The experts say the boosted NGF production can protect neurons from chemical substances that cause cell death.

Read more: Researchers ‘set to unveil breakthrough Alzheimer’s treatment’

Mushrooms Cordyceps, Lion’s Mane and Reishi were all shown to have even more brain benefits. Used in Asian medicine, Cordyceps’ antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties prevents neuronal cell death and memory loss, Lion’s Mane, favoured in Chinese and Japanese medicine, has an impact on mild cognitive impairment and Reishi mushrooms improve cognitive abilities and increased longevity.

The study has been published in Journal of Medicinal Food, with journal editor-in-chief Dr Sampath Parthasarathy sharing his excitement at the findings.

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“In contrast to the body of literature on food ingredients that may benefit cardiometabolic diseases and cancer, very few studies have focused on food that may benefit neurodegenerative diseases.

“The current study might stimulate the identification of more food materials that are neuroprotective,” Dr Parthasarathy said.

Previous research has also shown mushrooms have antioxidant, antitumor, antivirus, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and anti-diabetic activities properties.

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