Mushrooms may help slow down ageing

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The magical mushroom may be our anti-ageing hero

Hot Flush love a mushroom, even more so, now. A new study led by Robert Beelman, professor of food science and director of the Pennsylvania State University Center for Plant and Mushroom Products for Health found they contain specific anti-ageing compounds.

Food science researchers were aware that mushrooms contain the highest source of an antioxidant called ergothioneine, but this new study found another major antioxidant, glutathione. Scientists suggest that these antioxidants may help fight against ageing and boost our health. Thumbs up to that.

"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," said Beelman. "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."

These antioxidants vary across the wide array of mushrooms, so we want to know, which mushrooms  contain these chemicals?

Well, according to the report published in a recent issue of Food Chemistry,  amounts of the two antioxidants vary across species, with the wild variety of the porcini mushroom, containing the highest amount out of 13 species tested. "We found that the porcini has the highest, by far, of any we tested," said Beelman.

The more common types of mushroom, such as the humble, white button mushrooms, contain less of these chemicals, but still have higher levels than many other foods. Cooking mushrooms doesn’t seem to affect these anti-oxiant compounds, as they are very heat stable, Beelman reports. 

Future research may now look into whether these two antioxidants play a role in decreasing the likelihood of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

A worthwhile study we think, and certainly an incentive for adding the mighty magical mushroom to your diet.