You are currently viewing Eating Mushrooms May Improve Memory
Image courtesy of the South African Mushroom Farmers Association

It would seem that eating mushrooms regularly is a “no brainer” for the health of your mind and memories. Fortunately, they are easy to incorporate into your diet and readily available.

Mushrooms are also an excellent and economical substitute for animal source protein. Eating mushrooms daily can go a long way to aiding memory.

Agaricus bisporus is the scientific name for your average white button mushroom, easily bought in most supermarkets. And white button, portabellini and big brown or portabello mushrooms are in fact the same mushroom, just at different stages of development.

the science behind eating mushrooms

When it comes to Blue Zone eating, mushrooms have been found to be a staple. The term Blue Zone is “a non-scientific term given to geographic regions that are home to some of the world’s oldest people.”

Writing on the Blue Zone site, Robert Beelman, PhD, professor of food science at Pennsylvania State University, describes mushrooms as disease-fighting stars. “In the past, food scientists like me often praised mushrooms as healthy because of what they don’t contribute to the diet; they contain no cholesterol and gluten and are low in fat, sugars, sodium and calories,” he notes.

“But that was selling mushrooms short. They are very healthy foods and could have medicinal properties, because they are good sources of protein, B-vitamins, fibre, immune-enhancing sugars found in the cell walls called beta-glucans, and other bioactive compounds.

“Important nutrients in mushrooms include selenium, vitamin D, glutathione and ergothioneine. All are known to function as antioxidants that can mitigate oxidative stress and all are known to decline during ageing. Oxidative stress is considered the main culprit in causing the diseases of ageing such as cancer, heart disease and dementia.”

Eating mushrooms may well be the path to better memory in later years and that not-so-elusive elixir of long life we all desire.

Read more about superfood mushrooms and find some recipes here.

ways to make more of mushrooms in your meal plan

Eating mushrooms daily need not get boring, there are many ways to use them.

  • Blend ‘em – simply substitute half the meat in any dish like bobotie, tacos or pot pies with an equal quantity of finely chopped fresh white button mushrooms. They bring added umami flavour to each dish, as well as fibre, while lowering overall calories – win-win!
  • Bulk out meals – meat is expensive, so by adding fresh portabellinis or other mushrooms to stews, casseroles, bredies and potjies, you can feed a lot more people without paying substantially more.
  • Eat for every meal – mushrooms are good with breakfast eggs, lunchtime salads and evening “meat and three veg” meals.
  • Raw or cooked – raw fresh mushrooms have a beautifully creamy, earthy and clean flavour when sliced and scatted over fresh ingredients. Mushrooms also act like a sponge for flavours both subtle and strong in cooking, adapting well to all cooking methods, from sauté to sous vide.
  • Meat substitute – big browns are simple to substitute for burger patties, steaks on the braai, chicken in saucy braises.

Visit the South African Mushroom Farmer’s Association website for some inspiring recipes.