Mushrooms May Help You Fight Off Aging
A new study published in the journal Food Chemistry suggests that certain mushrooms contain two antioxidants thought to improve healthspan and stave off aging.
The new research was led by Robert Beelman, professor emeritus of food science and director of the Pennsylvania State University Center for Plant and Mushroom Products for Health in State College. Michael D. Kalaras, a postdoctoral assistant in food science, is the first author of the paper.
Researchers were already aware that mushrooms are "the highest source" of an antioxidant called ergothioneine, but little was known about glutathione, another major antioxidant.
Additionally, levels of antioxidants vary across different species of mushroom, so the researchers wanted to know which species had the most of these two chemicals.
The new findings are significant in the context of the so-called free radical theory of aging. As Prof. Beelman explains, "[The theory] has been around for a long time [and it] 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."
"The body has mechanisms to control most of them," he goes on to say, "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."
However, it is worth mentioning that the free radical theory of aging is controversial. Some rodent studies have shown that by removing free radicals from cells, they can extend the lifespan of the animals.
That being said, other studies have failed to show that supplementing the body with antioxidants can do the same - although the chances of living disease-free until the end of the maximum lifespan have been shown to increase with antioxidants.