Eating Mushrooms Replenishes The Anti-Aging Antioxidants in Your Body

A team of Penn State scientists have found that mushrooms have extraordinarily high quantities of two antioxidants which can help in fighting aging and boosting good health. The findings of this research has been published recently in the journal Food Chemistry.

In their study, the scientists detected high quantities of glutathione and ergothioneine- two vital antioxidants, in mushrooms. Previous studies have found that both of these antioxidants have anti-aging benefits. In the current study, they discovered that the quantities of these two substances differed highly between different mushroom species.

Robert Beelman, director of the Penn State Center for Plant and Mushroom Products for Health and professor emeritus of food science, stated “What we found is that, without a doubt, mushrooms are the highest dietary source of these two antioxidants taken together, and that some types are really packed with both of them.”

When your body generates energy from food, it also produces free radicals as byproducts which cause oxidative stress. These free radicals are highly reactive atoms that damage proteins, cells and DNA. These damages can lead to aging related diseases such as Alzheimer’s, coronary heart disease and cancer. You can aid your body in safeguarding itself against this toxic phenomenon called oxidative stress by restoring antioxidants in your body.

The researchers tested 13 different mushroom species for their glutathione and ergothioneine contents. They found that these contained varied quantities of antioxidants. They found the highest quantity of these antioxidants in a wild variety of mushroom called the porcini species.

The porcini species of mushroom is a renowned mushroom variety in Italy. People here go looking for it. The researchers found that the commonly occurring mushrooms such as the white button mushroom have lower quantities of these antioxidants than the porcini mushroom, but still the quantity is higher than most other foods.

The researchers also found that the quantity of glutathione and ergothioneine in the mushrooms were correlated. For instance, mushrooms which had high quantities of ergothioneine also had high quantities of glutathione. Further, they found another good thing about ergothioneine. That is, this is highly heat stable, and so, cooking doesn’t affect these antioxidants. So, you can go ahead and have fried, baked, boiled and steamed mushrooms.

People in countries like Italy and France include more quantities of ergothioneine in their diet, and those in countries like United States take less quantities of this antioxidant in their diet. And, the former group of people have less incidences of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, and the latter have higher probability of these.

We are not currently aware whether this is causative or correlated. However, future research may be directed to find the roles played by these antioxidants in reducing the probability of neurodegenerative diseases. This is because, the difference in the intake of these mushrooms between these two groups of countries is low, which is some 3 milligrams of these antioxidants, which translates to 5 button mushrooms per day. The discovery of this high nutritional value of mushroom may soon replace the proverb “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” with “Five mushrooms a day keeps the doctor away!”

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