Mushrooms may have anti-ageing potential: scientists

Mushrooms may have anti-ageing potential: scientists

While in counties like the United States, there are higher number of cases of neurodegenerative diseases like the Parkinsons.

Just a small portion five days a week is enough to make a difference.

He and his team found mushrooms to contain two antioxidants - ergothioneine and glutathione.

The study found that white button mushrooms don't pack the biggest antioxidant wallop, but they're better than many other foods.


The theory is that free radicals are unstable molecules that react with other substances in the body to damage cells, proteins and even DNA - or create abnormal ones.

In a study, researchers found that mushrooms have high amounts of the ergothioneine and glutathione, both important antioxidants, said Robert Beelman, professor emeritus of food science and director of the Penn State Center for Plant and Mushroom Products for Health.

These highly reactive atoms travel through the body seeking to pair up with other electrons, causing the body to suffer with oxidative stress.

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These toxic chemicals have always been associated with conditions such as cancer, heart disease and dementia.

Amounts of the two antioxidants varied greatly between the 13 mushroom species tested.

"We found that the porcini has the highest, by far, of any we tested", says Beelman.

Antioxidants have been elevated to near-mythical status through the wellness movement, which can at times rely on junky science, but there's solid research indicating they help us fight oxidative stress. "This species is really popular in Italy".

Also heartening to hear is that unlike the nutritional value that comes from some foods, it appears that one need not eat an entire of forest-full of mushrooms to reap the potential benefits. 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 U.S., where the amount of ergothioneine in diet is low. "Now, whether that's just a correlation or causative, we don't know".

The researchers noted that while the findings are preliminary, one can see that the countries that have more ergothioneine in their diets, countries like France and Italy, also have lower incidences of neurodegenerative diseases, the average amount of the antioxidant seen in the diets in these countries is about 3 milligrams per day, or about five button mushrooms. The victor "by far" was the wild porcini mushroom, which is convenient since it's also delicious.

Commenting on the findings, Dr Laura Phipps, of Alzheimer's Research UK, said last night: "It is unlikely that any single food is the key to a healthy brain but they can form part of a balanced diet, which can help keep brains healthy for longer".

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