A new study finds that some of our favorite toadstools may have high concentrations of antioxidants with anti-aging benefits.
Researchers at Penn State analyzed the chemical composition of a wide variety of types of mushrooms, finding that many contained high levels of ergothioneine and glutathione, both of which are 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," says lead researcher Robert Beelman in a university news release.
It is widely accepted that the human body's chemical process of converting food into energy produces free radicals, which can cause damage to cells, protein, and DNA, the researchers explain.
"There's a theory — the free radical theory of aging — that's been around for a long time that says 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 and many of these are quite toxic," says Beelman.
Eventually, an accumulation of free radicals can lead to chronic disease and illness, including "cancer, coronary heart disease, and Alzheimer's," he adds. Ergothioneine and glutathione can help control those free radicals.