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A Mushroom-Derived Compound That Could Change Your Life: Ergothioneine

Abstract: Humans through time have been captivated and, at times, intimidated by the enigmatic and mysterious lifeforms of mushrooms. This sense of awe extends to the equally peculiar and mysterious chemical components that mushrooms harbor. Within mushrooms, a plethora of compounds exist, including betaglucans, melanin, vitamins, minerals, polyphenols, triterpenoids, glutathione, and ergothioneine. Many of these compounds boast documented health benefits, and their concentrations can be scarce in other foods. Do you require an organic chemistry degree to unravel the science behind these compounds and understand their benefits? Certainly not. However, one compound that occurs in wild and culinary mushrooms should demand your complete attention. Its name is ergothioneine. Why? Because ergothioneine may just be a compound that will help you live a longer and better life. Ergothioneine is not produced by humans or plants and is only made by fungi. It has recently gained attention as a potent antioxidant and antiinflammatory, and as such, it has been labeled as a potential “longevity vitamin” and “powerhouse nutrient” [1]. In this paper I will present to you our current understanding of the potential health benefits of this amazing compound. Ergothioneine is abundantly concentrated in specific wild and cultivated mushroom species and their fungal mycelium. Which fungi possess this compound? What are the specific benefits associated with it? How well-documented is the research on ergothioneine? How does the cultivation of food and the presence of mycorrhizal fungi in soil affect ergothioneine levels? This paper aims to provide essential information to address these questions.

Amaranthus, M. (2023). A Mushroom-Derived Compound That Could Change Your Life: Ergothioneine. Food & Nutrition Journal.