There are many different types of fruits and vegetables that have stunning antioxidant properties. Antioxidants can help in a plethora of different areas - one of which is bolstering health and increasing anti-aging properties. Mushrooms actually contain a very high amount of two specific antioxidants that can help with the fight against aging. These two antioxidant properties are called ergothioneine and glutathione, which exist in copious amounts in many types of mushrooms.
This is terrific news as the body uses the food that we ingest to properly produce energy. When the body is being replenished by antioxidants it is put in a better position to fight off the free radical formations that will occur in the body.
Free Radical Theory Of Aging
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, says Robert Beelman, a professor of food science at Penn State. There's a theory the free radical theory of aging that's been around for a long time. It states that when we oxidize our food to produce energy there's a number of free radicals that are produced that are side products of that action. Many of these are quite toxic. The body has mechanisms to control most of them, including ergothioneine and glutathione, but eventually enough accrue to cause damage, which has been associated with many of the diseases of aging, like cancer, coronary heart disease and Alzheimer's.
The amounts of each one of these antioxidants present in mushrooms - ergothioneine and glutathione - vary largely by strain and type. There are many different species that exist which have these two antioxidants. The porcini species - a part of the wild variety - has the highest amount. Though the more common types had less of the antioxidants than the porcini, they still had way more than many other food items. White button mushrooms, for example, will still provide a great deal of these antioxidants to the body when readily consumed.
A great thing to note as well is that cooking mushrooms is completely fine and won't alter the molecular structure of the antioxidants. There is no significant compound shift after they come into contact with heat. Ergothioneine is incredibly heat stable, which means that for those who have a hard time eating raw mushrooms, there is a more palatable cooked option that doesn't eliminate or negate the health properties that it provides the body.
The researchers even noted that this can be found on a global scale because in countries like Italy and France, there is less of an occurrence of neurodegenerative diseases. It may be a coincidence that these countries have way more ergothioneine in their diets or that there is an obvious correlation.
There is a much higher occurrence of specific diseases in this country, such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's, than in the countries previously mentioned who also happen to consume high amounts of these antioxidants in their diets. It's definitely something to look into.
The fact that we have so many natural elements at our disposal that we can use to improve our health should ultimately be enough to push the need for more studies such as these to really uncover the power of natural food.