Skip to content

Eating more mushrooms may lower risk of premature death

A study by Penn State College of Medicine researchers found that adults who ate mushrooms had a lower risk of premature death, regardless of their demographics, lifestyle choices and other dietary factors. This research supports other studies which show that eating more mushrooms may lower a person’s risk for cognitive impairments and chronic diseases like cancer.

The researchers conducted a study of more than 15,000 U.S. adults using data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1988 to 1994. They found that individuals who consumed mushrooms had lower risk of death by all causes compared with those who did not eat mushrooms. This evidence supports increasing public awareness about the health benefits of adding mushrooms into diets.

“Mushrooms are a rich source of powerful antioxidants ergothioneine and glutathione,” said Djibril Ba, author and epidemiology doctoral student in the Department of Public Health Sciences. “Having higher levels of antioxidants in the body may protect against oxidative stress and lower the risk of premature death. More research is needed to better understand what causes this association.”

The researchers used the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) food codes for recipes to identify which people surveyed ate mushrooms. They also used the National Death Index, to find out which survey respondents died and from what causes between 1988 through 2015. Throughout this period, a total of 5,826 deaths occurred. The researchers determined there was an association between mushroom consumption and lower risk of premature death. When examining specific causes of death, the researchers did not observe any significant associations with mushroom consumption.

According to the researchers, data on specific types of mushrooms was not available, so associations between particular mushrooms and mortality may have been missed. Similarly, since USDA food codes were used to determine mushroom intake, some foods may have been misclassified or inaccurately recorded mushrooms as a vegetable. Additional studies looking into patterns of long-term mushroom consumption and the association to mortality risks could be beneficial.

Paddy Ssentongo, Laila Al-Shaar, Vernon Chinchilli, Joshua Muscat and John Richie from Penn State College of Medicine; Robert Beelman from Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences; and Xiang Gao and Xinyuan Zhang from the Penn State College of Health and Human Development also contributed to this research. The researchers declare no conflicts of interest or specific funding for this research.

If you're having trouble accessing this content, or would like it in another format, please email Penn State Health Marketing & Communications.