Mushrooms are “without a doubt” the best food for anti-aging, new research states.
Researchers at Pennsylvania State University found that mushrooms are the highest known single source of ergothioneine and glutathione – antioxidants both known to promote anti-aging, Newsweek reports. Some 13 species that the researchers tested contained higher levels of the compounds than others.
For example, white button mushrooms had low levels of the antioxidants, but still had higher levels than other kinds of food. The mushroom with the highest levels “by far” was the wild porcini mushroom, which is an ingredient in many dishes.
While some foods lose their health properties when cooked, the antioxidants in mushrooms appear to retain their benefits.
Robert Beelman, professor emeritus of food science and director of the Penn State Center for Plant and Mushroom Products for Health, said in a news release,
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.
He explained further, “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.”
Beelman said that the research has not confirmed correlation. However, the difference in diets among nations is evident. “It’s preliminary, but you can see that countries that have more ergothioneine in their diets, countries like France and Italy, also have lower incidences of neurodegenerative diseases, while people in countries like the United States, which has low amounts of ergothioneine in the diet, have a higher probability of diseases like Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s.”
The study was published in the journal Food Chemistry.