The brain is a complex organ that requires lots of energy to function optimally.
In fact, it accounts for almost 20% of our body’s total energy expenditure.
Because the brain is so important and also uses a lot of energy, researchers have begun to investigate foods that may be able to boost cognitive performance and prevent neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.
There are many different types of food that are beneficial for the brain. Some chemicals like omega-3 fatty acids and acetylcholine have been shown to improve cognitive ability by increasing blood flow or neurotransmitter production in the brain. Other chemicals like carotenoids, flavonoids, and beta-carotene can increase neuron regeneration and protect against oxidative stressors like free radicals which can damage neurons and initiate degenerative processes.
In this article we’ll explain why mushrooms are so good for your brain with their abundance of Vitamin D, minerals, antioxidants, ergotho-lactin compounds (ENDO), and nerve growth factor (NGF).
Whether you are new to eating mushrooms or just want a refresher on what types of mushrooms you should be eating – this article has you covered!
What Are Mushrooms?
Mushrooms are fungi that belong to the kingdom of eukaryotes, which also includes plants, animals, and single-celled organisms like bacteria. Mushrooms are a type of fungus that grows in soil or on decaying organic matter like wood.
There are many different types of mushrooms, each with a unique flavor and texture. Mushrooms can be violet, red, yellow, or even white, and they come in a variety of textures, including crunchy, meaty, or chewy.
Mushrooms are very nutritious and can be consumed cooked or raw. There are many different types of mushrooms and some are even toxic, so it’s important to know which ones to eat and which ones to avoid.
Why Are Mushrooms Good for Your Brain?
The brain is an incredibly complex organ that requires lots of energy to function and mushrooms may be able to boost cognitive performance and prevent neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.
They contain different nutrients and compounds like omega-3 fatty acids and acetylcholine that improve cognitive ability by increasing blood flow or neurotransmitter production in the brain.
They also contain:
1. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is an important fat-soluble vitamin that helps to maintain proper bone health, immune system function, and cardiovascular health.
Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to depression, anxiety, and even Alzheimer’s disease.
While it is possible to get enough vitamin D from your diet, mushrooms are a great source of this crucial vitamin. One cup of cooked mushrooms contains enough of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin D, so they can be a powerful ally in maintaining brain health.
Minerals are inorganic chemical compounds that are essential for human health. Some of the most important minerals for brain health and cognitive function include iron, zinc, and selenium.
Mushrooms are an excellent source of all of these minerals, especially iron.
Iron is very important for cognitive function as it is required in the formation of neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.
Zinc is also important for cognitive function, particularly in learning and memory, as well as attention and focus. One cup of mushrooms contains roughly 28% of your daily recommended amount of zinc, an excellent source of brain-boosting minerals.
Oxidative stress occurs when the production of free radicals is out of balance with the level of antioxidants that are available to combat them. This can lead to oxidative stress, which is associated with degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Mushrooms are a good source of antioxidants that protect against oxidative stress. The most abundant antioxidant found in mushrooms is the beta-glucan. Beta-glucan has been shown to reduce inflammation and lower cholesterol, and it can also help to maintain brain health.
One cup of mushrooms contains approximately 12% of your daily recommended amount of beta-glucan, making it a great antioxidant-rich food.
4. Ergotho-lactin compounds (ENDO) and Nerve Growth Factor (NGF)
Ergotho-lactin is a compound that is often extracted from fungi like mushrooms for use in supplements.
Ergotho-lactin has been shown to reduce oxidative stress in humans, which may improve cognitive performance.
Mushrooms also contain another compound called Nerve Growth Factor (NGF), which can promote neuron regeneration.
Together, ergotho-lactin and NGF are thought to improve cognition by protecting neurons from oxidative stress and increasing neuron regeneration, which means more neurons can be produced in the brain as we age.
This could be an important way that mushrooms improve cognition and prevent degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.
How to Eat More Mushrooms and Improve Brain Health?
Mushrooms are a versatile and delicious food that can be added to almost any meal. They can be baked, grilled, sauteed, or even eaten raw in a salad or sandwich.
Cooked mushrooms are especially good for brain health as they are easier to digest than raw mushrooms.
For best brain health benefits, choose a variety of different kinds of mushrooms, including lion’s mane, crimini, cordyceps, portobello, and reishi mushrooms.
Mushrooms can be eaten in many different ways, including in soups, stews, pastas, stir-fries, and side dishes. You can also use mushrooms as a replacement for meat in dishes like burgers, sandwich wraps, or tacos.
3 Best Mushrooms for Brain Health
When it comes to mushrooms, the more the better!
The best mushrooms for brain health contain high levels of all the brain-boosting nutrients and compounds discussed above.
There are many different types of mushrooms that make a good brain food, but researchers often say that lion’s mane, cordyceps, and reishi mushrooms are particularly good brain foods.
- Lion’s Mane mushrooms are rich in vitamin D and beta-glucan, and they also contain ergotho-lactin. This combination of nutrients makes these mushrooms a particularly powerful brain food.
- Cordyceps mushrooms are a good source of ergotho-lactin, NGF, and selenium, making them a nutritious brain food.
- Reishi mushrooms also contain ergotho-lactin, but they are also enriched in iron and zinc. This makes crimini mushrooms an excellent choice for brain health, particularly for vegetarians who may not get enough iron or zinc. They also help in stabilizing your blood sugar and lowering your high blood pressure.
Mushrooms are a delicious and nutritious food that can improve cognitive function and protect the brain from degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.
The 3 named mushrooms are particularly high in ergotho-lactin, beta-glucan, and NGF, which have been shown to promote neuron regeneration, lower oxidative stress, and increase cognitive performance.
Whether you are new to eating mushrooms or are just looking for ways to boost your cognitive health, eating more mushrooms is a great start.