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Healthline Physical Health

Eating mushrooms seems to lower depression risk

  • A new study from Penn State finds an association between eating mushrooms every day and a lower likelihood of experiencing depression.
  • Mushrooms contain several substances reported to have antidepressant qualities.
  • This research sets the stage for further study regarding a causal link between the consumption of mushrooms and a reduced risk of depression.
Researchers at Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, PA, have been investigating the potential health benefits of eating mushrooms.
In May 2021, they published a study that suggested a connection between mushroom consumption and a lower risk of cancer. They also published a study that found an association between eating mushrooms and being less likely to experience premature deathTrusted Source. The researchers have now published a third mushroom study.
The study suggests that people who eat moderate amounts of mushrooms are less likely to experience depression.
There has been little research into mushrooms’ possible antidepressant properties. Previous studies were small clinical trials involving fewer than 100 participants.
According to study co-author Dr. Joshua Muscat, Ph.D., M.P.H., an epidemiologist at Penn State Cancer Institute, “The study adds to the growing list of possible health benefits of eating mushrooms.” Dr. Muscat also told Medical News Today, “We had the opportunity to look at this in a larger, nationally representative study.”
Dr. David Crepaz-Keay, from the Mental Health Foundation, was not involved in the recent study but assessed it for MNT.
He reported: “The authors have a strong track record in research in this area, using an important dataset for interesting research. The study is high quality, and the conclusions are measured and reasonable. But the area of food and mental health is still a difficult one.”
The study now appears in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

What the investigation found

For the study, each of the 24,699 participants completed questionnaires on two occasions. For these questionnaires, they recalled all the foods they had eaten during the previous 24 hours.
The participants who were most likely to be mushroom eaters were college-educated, non-Hispanic white women.
The overall incidence of depression among the entire study cohort was 5.9%.
Mushroom eaters constituted 5.2% of the participants. The researchers divided these mushroom eaters into three groups according to the extent of their mushroom consumption.
Those who ate a median amount of mushrooms (4.9 grams [g] per day) were the only group to experience a reduction in the likelihood of depression.
Curiously, the researchers did not observe a similar reduction in depression for those who ate the most mushrooms (19.6 g each day), suggesting that a median intake constitutes the sweet spot for relief from depression.
On the other hand, Dr. Muscat speculated, “The number of study participants [who] consumed a half-a-serving size of mushrooms or more was quite small, so it could just be statistical variation.”
“Alternatively,” he added, “if mushrooms prevented depression, you would expect to see a greater effect in those who consumed the most, so either the protective effect in the middle consumption group is not real, or there are other factors that are obscuring the association in the highest tertile that we just don’t know about.”
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