may contain unusually high amounts of antioxidants
which could help fight ageing and bolster health, a study claims.
Researchers found that mushrooms
have high amounts of ergothioneine and glutathione, both important antioxidants.
“What we found is that, without a doubt, mushrooms
are highest dietary source of these two antioxidants
taken together, and that some types are really packed with both of them,” said Robert Beelman, professor at Pennsylvania State University
in the US. He said when body uses food to produce energy, it also causes oxidative stress because some free radicals are produced.
Free radicals are oxygen atoms with unpaired electrons that cause damage to cells, proteins and even DNA, as these highly reactive atoms travel through the body seeking to pair up with other electrons. Replenishing antioxidants
in the body, then, might help protect against this oxidative stress. “When we oxidise our food to produce energy there is a number of free radicals that are produced that are side products of that action and many of these are quite toxic,” said Beelman. “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 ageing, like cancer, coronary heart disease and Alzheimer’s,” he said.
The study published in the journal Food Chemistry, found that the amounts of ergothioneine and glutathione in mushrooms
vary by species.