Eat mushrooms for a longer life?

Two papers, starting with a 2021 meta-analysis of mushroom intake:

“Mushroom consumption was associated with a lower risk of total mortality in this nationally representative sample of US adults.

median mushroom intake

15,546 participants were included, mean age 44.3 years. During a mean follow-up duration of 19.5 years, a total of 5,826 deaths were documented.

Participants who reported consuming mushrooms had lower risk of all-cause mortality compared with those without mushroom intake after adjusting for demographic, major lifestyle factors, overall diet quality, and other dietary factors including total energy.”

https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12937-021-00691-8 “Association of mushroom consumption with all-cause and cause-specific mortality among American adults: prospective cohort study findings from NHANES III”


A 2019 review with two of the same coauthors:

“Mushrooms are inherently, or can easily be made to be, excellent dietary sources of 4 important bioactive compounds that decrease in humans as they age:

  • Selenium;
  • Vitamin D2;
  • Glutathione; and
  • Ergothioneine (Ergo).

All of these except for Ergo can be found in significant amounts in other foods, and mushrooms are by far the best human dietary source.

Humans produce a highly specific transport protein for Ergo that makes it highly bioavailable and avidly retained. Such specific transporters are rarely present for nonnutrient bioactive compounds.

mushroom ergothioneine glutathione

Mushrooms are a valuable source of protein, fiber, B vitamins, phenolic compounds, potassium, and β-glucans. An increase of 3 mg/d can be accomplished by consumption of about 100 g of fresh button mushrooms per day, or around 25 g of fresh specialty mushrooms such as shiitake, oyster, or maitake mushrooms.

One potential way to add fresh button mushrooms to the diet would be to embrace the meat-blend approach in which about 30% to 40% ground, fresh button mushrooms are blended with 60% to 70% ground beef to replace pure ground beef in burgers or other common commonly consumed dishes. Another approach could be to use small amounts of Ergo-rich specialty mushroom dried powder as a new food ingredient into current or new food products.”

https://journals.lww.com/nutritiontodayonline/Abstract/2019/01000/Micronutrients_and_Bioactive_Compounds_in.5.aspx# “Micronutrients and Bioactive Compounds in Mushrooms: A Recipe for Healthy Aging?” (not freely available)


I doubt that mushroom intake was a cause of more than a third of this meta-analysis’ participants dying before they reached age 64. The first study of The amino acid ergothioneine had better methodological approaches that related mushroom intake to mortality.

I’ve eaten more than triple the first graphic’s 72 grams for over a year, not because I knew of health effects, but because I like mushrooms. The second graphic is nice to know, but probably won’t go out of my way for ergothioneine content.

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