This Vegetable Can Help You Live Longer

Anyone for mushrooms on their pizza? Alternatively, how about a mushroom soup? Whether you enjoy eating these fungus on a regular basis or prefer to avoid them, there’s a compelling reason for most of us to start doing so. These low-key culinary heroes, classified as vegetables, have surprisingly high quantities of antioxidants linked to health benefits and anti-aging qualities.

Penn State researchers looked at 13 distinct types of mushrooms and discovered that they all have high amounts of two antioxidants; ergothioneine (ERGO) and glutathione (GSH). Both are thought to help counteract free radical damage to cells. Which can hasten aging and lead to long-term health issues such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and even cancer.

According to study author Robert Beelman, PhD, who spoke to Men’s Health, “Mushrooms, as a ‘ball of fungi,’ have by far the largest concentration of [ERGO] in the human food chain. Because it enters the food chain through plants, which pick it up from fungi in the soil, many other foods have just trace quantities of ERGO.”

Antioxidants are abundant in mushrooms

Mushrooms have nearly twice the amount of these antioxidants as asparagus, the most effective vegetable source (via Men’s Health). While the levels of ERGO and GSH vary by mushroom species (with wild mushrooms, particularly porcini, containing the most), even common white button mushrooms contain enough ERGO and GSH that five of them a day is enough to meet your three-milligram daily requirement.

Furthermore, there is some indication that the antioxidants present in mushrooms may not only prevent physical aging but also safeguard mental health. “Countries with more ergothioneine in their diets, such as France and Italy, have lower incidences of neurodegenerative diseases,” says Dr. Beelman, “while people in countries with low ergothioneine in their diets, such as the United States, have a higher probability of diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.”

Isn’t a portobello burger for lunch sounding delicious right now?