Eating mushrooms makes you younger?
We are told that eating mushrooms is good for our health. Now, a new study provides evidence to this.
Researchers, including Michael Kalaras, John Richie, Ana Calcagnotto, and Robert Beelman from the Pennsylvania State University (PSU), have demonstrated that some mushroom species have extremely high levels of antioxidants that confer great health benefits.
There is a mechanistic link between oxidation, disease and aging. Oxidative stress gradually damages DNA and proteins, mitochondria, cell membranes, and other essential components of cells, contributing to the development of various diseases. In fact, almost all common diseases are associated with oxidative stress, such as cancer, heart disease and stroke, diabetes, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and so on.
Oxidative stress occurs when the body's mechanism for dealing with the highly toxic chemicals -- free radicals -- is overtaxed. A host of interior and exterior factors can trigger oxidative stress in the body, including chronic illness or inflammation, bad emotions, excessive or lack of exercise, ultraviolet radiation, and polluted environment.
Common signs of oxidative stress include fatigue, memory loss, muscle or joint pain, and susceptibility to infections. And, there are many expert-recommended strategies to help you reduce oxidative stress. One strategy is eating food high in antioxidants -- substances that inhibit oxidation. Examples of high antioxidant foods are goji berries, dark chocolate, pecans, and artichoke.
Now, PSU researchers have uncovered that mushrooms are also high in antioxidants. Specifically, certain mushroom species contain large amounts of the antioxidants, glutathione (GSH) and ergothioneine (ERGO). The discovery suggests mushrooms as a dietary source of these important antioxidants.
Dr. Beelman, senior author of the study and professor emeritus of food science at PSU, is focusing on the development of methods to enhance the levels of important bioactive components of cultivated mushrooms.
In the study, Dr. Beelman and colleagues employed HPLC, a DTNB enzymatic recycling method, and other techniques to measure GSH and ERGO in different species of mushrooms. The results showed that the GSH and ERGO levels varied greatly between species, and certain mushroom species contained uniquely high levels of GSH and ERGO.
Recent studies have shown that GSH is an important antioxidant in mammalian cells. ERGO appears to be a potentially important antioxidant/nutrient, although its physiological role in humans has not been fully understood. But more research is still needed to investigate whether these antioxidants could provide health benefits associated with protection against aging-related diseases.
You can read the full paper "Mushrooms: A rich source of the antioxidants ergothioneine and glutathione" online in the journal Food Chemistry.