A lot of people love mushrooms – and what a variety there are! And another good reason to enjoy them – mushrooms contain two very powerful antioxidants – ergothioneine and glutathione. These antioxidants can help keep you healthy, help you age gracefully (who doesn’t want that?) and can help prevent the onset of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinsons and Altzheimers.
As we know, antioxidants can reduce oxidative stress in the body. In order for our bodies to produce energy we have to oxidize the food we eat. However, this process generates free radicals which are toxic by-products. Free radicals can cause cell damage which can lead to premature aging which can also increase the risk of a variety of diseases. The purpose of the two antioxidants found in mushrooms is to help neutralize the effects of the free radicals and therefore lower the risk of severe health issues.
France and Italy are two countries that incorporate high amounts of ergothioneine in their diets and show lower rates of neurodegenerative diseases. In fact mushrooms are a staple in Italian kitchens! Unfortunately, people living in the United States have lower amounts of this antioxidant and this country has a high risk of neurodegenerative diseases.
Of 13 species of mushrooms the Porcini mushroom which originates in Italy contains the highest amounts of ergothioneine and glutathione. However, easier-to-find mushrooms like the white button mushroom which has lower levels still has much higher levels of the antioxidants than other foods – even when cooked! Research shows that cooking mushrooms does not significantly alter the antioxidant levels. Eating just 5 button mushrooms a day can help keep your body and mind as young as you feel!
So…cook on with mushrooms! There are tons of ways to enjoy them – in omelets or quiche for breakfast, in entrees dishes like Chicken Marsala or Beef Stroganoff, as an appetizer (yum to stuffed mushrooms!), in a pasta dish, as a soup, sauteed with vegetables – their use is endless! Here is a great stuffed mushroom recipe:
½ Cup Italian Style Bread Crumbs
½ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
2 Garlic Cloves Peeled and Minced
2 Tbsp. Fresh Chopped Italian Parsley
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/3 Cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
28 Large White or Portobello Mushrooms (about 2-1/2 inch diameter), cleaned with stems removed
Preheat oven to 400 Degrees. Combine Bread Crumbs, Cheese, Garlic, Parsley, Salt/Pepper and Olive Oil. Drizzle a large baking sheet with about 1 tbsp Olive Oil. Spoon the Bread Crumb mixture into the mushrooms and drizzle remaining Olive Oil on top of the filling. Bake until mushrooms are tender and golden on top – about 25 minutes. Serve right out of the oven!