Friday, April 3, 2009

Bites: Mushrooms Tops in Antioxidants

Penn State food scientists have found that mushrooms are a better natural source of the antioxidant ergothioneine than either of the two dietary sources previously believed to be best.

The researchers found that white button mushrooms, the most commonly consumed kind in the U.S., have about 12 times more of the antioxidant than wheat germ and 4 times more than chicken liver, the previous top-rated ergothioneine sources based on available data.

Numerous studies have shown that consuming fruits and vegetables which are high in antioxidants may reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases. Ergothioneine, a unique metabolite produced by fungi, has been shown to have strong antioxidant properties and to provide cellular protection within the human body.

The Penn State researchers found that among the most commonly consumed mushrooms, portabellas and criminis have the most ergothioneine, followed closely by the white buttons. A standard 3-ounce USDA serving of these mushrooms, about the amount you'd put on a cheese steak or mushroom-topped burger, supplies up to 5 milligrams.

Exotic mushrooms have even more ergothioneine. The same standard serving size of shiitake, oyster, king oyster or maitake (hen of the woods) can contain up to 13mg in a 3-ounce serving or about 40 times as much as wheat germ.

The levels of ergothioneine do not decrease when the mushrooms are cooked, according to Joy Dubost, who led the Penn State study.

Source: Penn State

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