Mushrooms: immune-boosting, high antioxidants and more

The Vitl Nutrition Team / 17 Nov 2019

Studies show that mushrooms contain unusually high amounts of two key antioxidants, leading scientists to suggest they could help improve lifespan and fight against ageing.


Mushrooms have already been used in traditional medicine in Asia for thousands of years for their well-known immune-boosting powers. As well as having antibacterial and antiviral properties, mushrooms also contain beta-glucans.

Beta-glucans make up the mushroom cell walls and stimulate the immune system. Research has also indicated that they may even help in the defence against cancer. (If your personalised supplement packincludes the Immune Defense supplement, you'll find natural beta-glucans included in the formula).

What are antioxidants?

We produce antioxidants in the body and we also consume them from the foods we eat. They are essential for health as they neutralize and eliminate free radicals. Free radicals damage our cells; they come into the body from our environment (e.g chemicals and pollution) and are also the unfortunate bi-products of normal metabolic functions (e.g when the body uses food to produce energy).

Scientists already knew that mushrooms were a good source of the antioxidant ergothioneine but they were surprised to discover they were also a great source of glutathione, known as the "mother of all antioxidants".

The researchers pointed out that countries that have more ergothioneine in their diets (like France and Italy) also have lower incidents of neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. On the other hand, people in countries like the United States, which has low amounts of ergothioneine in the diet, have a higher probability of those diseases.

So, which mushrooms are best?

Porcini mushrooms were found to have the highest amounts of both of these antioxidants but even the chestnut and white button varieties, which had the least antioxidants of all the mushrooms, had higher amounts compared to other foods.

Luckily, you don't have to gorge on mushrooms to reap the benefits. The difference between the countries with low rates of neurodegenerative diseases is about 3 milligrams of ergothioneine per day, which is about 5 button mushrooms.

And don't worry, cooking mushrooms doesn't seem to significantly reduce the amount of antioxidants present either so why not try this immune-boosting (dairy-free) cream of mushroom soup?

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