Mushrooms contain a high amount of antioxidants that most other foods don't have.
The fountain of youth may be hiding in your stir-fry.
Mushrooms may have anti-aging properties, thanks to their concentration of certain antioxidants, according to new research published in the journal Food Chemistry.
For the study, Penn State University researchers analyzed the composition of 13 species of mushrooms and found that they contained unusually high amounts of two important antioxidants, ergothioneine (ERGO) and glutathione (GSH), both of which have been studied for their anti-aging and health boosting properties.
In fact, mushrooms have nearly double the amount of GSH found in asparagus, which has the highest recorded GSH value of all other vegetables, the study found. For most of the mushrooms studied, ERGO levels were either equal to or even higher than their GSH levels.
That’s a pretty big deal, since ERGO in particular is not like any other antioxidant, explains study author Robert Beelman, Ph.D., professor of food science and director for the Center for Plant and Mushroom Foods for Health at Penn State University.
Your body works to pull it from your bloodstream within an hour after you consume it, he says. From there, it goes to your tissues experiencing oxidative stress, a process that can damage your cells, proteins, and DNA, all of which play a role in the aging process and serious diseases like cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.
Your body can’t make ERGO on its own, so you have to get it through foods that contain non-yeast fungi. “Since mushrooms are a “ball of fungi” they contain the highest amount, by far, in the human food chain,” Beelman told Men’s Health. Many other foods contain quite small amounts of ERGO because it gets into the food chain via plants picking it up from fungi in the soil.”
So what kind of mushrooms should you eat to get the most bang for your nutritional buck?
Specialty mushrooms like Shiitake, Oyster, and Miatke tend to contain the highest amounts of ERGO. While common button mushrooms like Criminis and Portabellas contain less, they’re still much higher than other foods sources, says Beelman.
He recommends aiming for roughly 3 milligrams per day, or the equivalent of just five button mushrooms. Try adding them to a chicken and pasta bake, piled on bruschetta, or on top of your burger.