Mushrooms are also high in B vitamins and other minerals such as selenium, iron and copper. They're so highly reactive, that their efforts to pair up with anything and satisfy that electron deficiency can cause damage to cells, proteins, even DNA strands they come into contact with as they travel through the body. A research team led by Beelman has now found that mushrooms contain unusually high amounts of both ergothioneine and glutathione, and when it comes to getting both compounds in a single bite, there may be no better source.
Scientists have suggested through a study that of the many antioxidants found in mushrooms, two may have anti-aging properties.
These destroy harmful chemicals called free radicals that can cause a host of serious illnesses. Oxidative stress arises when our bodies turn food into fuel to produce the energy they need, but they can't avoid also creating some free radicals in the process.
Food scientist Professor Robert Beelman, of Pennsylvania State University, said: "Mushrooms are the highest dietary source of these two antioxidants and some types are really packed with both of them". He added that the researchers also found that the amounts the two compounds varied greatly between mushroom species.More news: HBO Pulls Louis CK Projects
Prof Robert Beelman, who was involved in the USA research, said: "Mushrooms are the highest dietary source". But though white button mushrooms had the least, they still had more than most other foods, reports Newsweek.
"The body has mechanisms to control most [free radicals], including ergothioneine and glutathione, but eventually enough accrue to cause damage, which has been associated with numerous diseases of aging, like cancer, coronary heart disease and Alzheimer's", Beelman adds. "This species is really popular in Italy".
Robert Beelman is professor emeritus of food science at Penn State and director of the Center for Plant and Mushroom Foods for Health.
Other interesting tidbits from the study include the discovery of a correlation between the amounts of ergothioneine and glutathione, meaning mushrooms that were high in one were also high in the other. Put them on your pizza or burger or in pasta, since cooking mushrooms does not seem to significantly affect the compounds.More news: War of words between Jerry Jones and National Football League continues
When talking about the free radical theory of aging, Prof Beelman said that the human body has "mechanism to control" these toxic radicals - such as ergothioneine and glutathione.
Countries like Italy and France have diet that is rich in ergothioneine, so the risk of diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease is lower as compared to countries like the USA, where the amount of ergothioneine in diet is low.
But the difference is striking, he notes: the average amount of the antioxidant seen in the diets in these countries is about 3 milligrams per day, or about five button mushrooms.More news: Oklahoma Sooners strike deal with Jordan Brand
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