Boost Your Mood with Mushrooms

Although magic mushrooms have been making recent headlines as an alternative treatment for depression, according to research by Penn State College of Medicine, regular mushrooms might just be an equally potent way to optimise your mental health as well.

With mental health in the spotlight more than ever, much has been made of the links between inflammation and its links to depression. Thought to be a major cause for neurological disorders, these inflammatory changes in the brain are connected to oxidative stress in the body, a condition whereby a dangerous amount of free radicals form, contributing to chronic diseases and ageing. One way to try and reduce this free radical damage is through our diet.

Mushrooms, well known for their abundant health properties, are rich source of potassium, an antioxidant that experts believe helps to reduce the impact of anxiety and depression. As well as helping regulate the nerves in your brain properly, potassium ensures proper communication between brain cells and those further away in your body. When potassium levels are low, the brain is unable to communicate as efficiently and cannot relay signals as effectively; a deficiency has also been linked to mood changes and mental fatigue. Even if you’re not a lover of some of the more exotic mushrooms available, the good news is that white button mushrooms are thought to be amongst the highest in potassium, with around 300mg of the vital mineral per serving.

As if that weren’t enough to convince you to stock your fridge, mushrooms also contain ergothioneine, another antioxidant that protects against cell and tissue damage in the body which can cause inflammation. According to an ongoing study by the Natural Medicine Journal, ergothioneine is thought to be responsible for an associated reduction in MCI or mild cognitive impairment because it can cross the blood-brain barrier and has a protective effect on neurological tissues. To reap the most benefits, look out for cremini and portobello mushrooms, both of which are thought to have the highest quota of ergothioneine.

When it comes to other varieties of mushrooms, lion's mane is thought to help stimulate nerve growth which could help prevent certain neurological disorders such as depression. Reishi mushrooms meanwhile, contain proteins that support optimal brain function by acting as precursors of neurotransmitters and endorphins to help reduce anxiety.