Latest research suggests that mushrooms containing high levels of the antioxidant compounds ergothioneine and glutathione might help prevent aging-related medical conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and prolong life.
It’s early days yet, but mushrooms contain more of these antioxidants than other foods, and porcini mushrooms come top of the pack. Cooking them also does not appear to destroy these compounds as they remain stable with heat according to the authors, but most people buy porcini mushrooms in their dried form. It would therefore be interesting to research whether modern drying methods adversely affect the level of antioxidants in foods.
There’s also evidence that ergothioneine does make it to the blood after consuming. This is important because, too often we find that some exciting research has come out suggesting a particular food has a high level of a beneficial compound, only to discover that our body cannot access it and so it just ends up as body waste.
It isn’t proven yet that antioxidants, or supplementing with antioxidants, actually prolongs life, but early evidence suggests that it might. This evidence is based on comparing populations who eat a lot of these antioxidants naturally (such as the French and Italians) with populations who eat little (such as US Americans).
This comparison found that diets low in these types of antioxidants had higher incidences of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, whereas the opposite was true of those with diets higher in these compounds. This doesn’t proven causation, but highlights some interesting threads for future research.
Hold onto your hats people, looks like mushrooms might make it to the list of superfoods.
Kalaras, MD et al (2017) Mushrooms: a rich source of the antioxidants ergothioneine and glutathione
Medical News Today Mushrooms may help you fight off aging
This blog post is intended as an interesting and informative read for anyone with a general interest in health and nutrition. It is not intended to give any form of medical advice or opinion. If you suffer from any of the mentioned symptoms, you should seek the opinion of a medically trained professional and not rely on the contents of this post. I’m a nutritionist guys, not a dietitian or a medical doctor.
Seb is a writer and blogger of food and nutrition. He holds a bachelors and a masters degree in nutrition science, and has studied sports and exercise nutrition at postgraduate level. He specialises in plant-based nutrition and believes passionately that we can all live with a little less meat.