There's Something About Eating Mushrooms That Seems to Lower Depression Risk

A large-scale analysis of people who eat mushrooms suggests they have a lower risk of depression.

The data should be interpreted with caution because the association is still a mystery. Since eating more mushrooms didn't seem to lower the odds of depression, there's a chance the results are a mere correlation.

This is the first large observational study on mushroom consumption and depression. The diet and mental health data of more than 24,000 adults in the United States were included.

The findings don't differentiate between different types of mushrooms, but they are consistent with several small clinical trials on lion's mane mushrooms, which found eating certain types of mushrooms can help reduce depression and anxiety.

"The study adds to the growing list of possible health benefits of eating mushrooms," says public health scientist Joshua Muscat from the Pennsylvania State University.

It's not clear what it's about mushrooms that make them good for our health.
White button mushrooms are the most popular mushrooms in the US and they are full of potassium, which is thought to help lower anxiety.
Nutrition science is a difficult business. Mushrooms have a variety of vitamins and minerals that could be contributing to their anti-depressant effects. It will take many more studies to figure out which factors are at play.
Scientists have their eye on the mushrooms that have a powerful antioxidant in them. Humans can only get it through diet, and mushrooms have the highest concentrations of it.
In recent animal models, it has been found that this anti-oxidants crosses the bloodstream barrier that separates the brain from the rest of the body, suggesting that it could have an effect on neurological health.

The animal models suggest that this is a role in gut health, where there are also neurons that can affect a person's mood. The same can be said of humans.

"Mushrooms are the most important source of the anti-Inflammatory anti- Inflammation which cannot be synthesized by humans," says epidemiologist Djibril Ba from Penn State.

It is possible that having high levels of this may lower the risk of depression.

That's a possible explanation. The differences between specific mushrooms and how they affect human health will need to be studied more by larger groups.

The data came from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, in which participants nationwide were asked to recall how many mushrooms they had eaten. The patient health questionnaire was used to measure their depression.
The association between mushroom consumption and lower odds of depression was not caused by other factors.

College-educated, non-Hispanic white women were the most likely to eat mushrooms. The link to depression was clear when they compared mushroom eaters to non-eaters.

Those who ate a lot of mushrooms didn't seem to show any benefits.

The authors compared the amount of mushrooms eaten by those who ate one serving per day with the amount eaten by those who ate red or processed meat. The substitution was not associated with lower depression odds.

There's still a lot we don't know about the relationship between mushrooms and mental health. It's worth exploring more given how often the relationship pops up in studies.

The authors conclude that mushroom consumption could be used to reduce depression and prevent diseases.

The study was published in a journal.