BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Thinking about what side dishes to serve along with your holiday meals this year? A new study says that no dinner table should be without a healthy amount of mushrooms.

Researchers at Penn State say they’ve found that a wide variety of mushrooms are packed with two important anti-aging chemicals, ergothioneine and glutathione. “What we found is that, without a doubt, mushrooms are the highest dietary source of these two antioxidants taken together, and that some types are really packed with both of them,” Penn State’s Robert Beelman said in a university press release.

The findings are being hailed by scientists who research the benefits of antioxidants on the human body. According to multiple studies, antioxidants help neutralize free radicals which the body is believed to produce when converting food into energy. Free radicals are unstable molecules that reportedly damage cells and cause age-related illnesses like heart disease.

“It’s preliminary, but you can see that countries that have more ergothioneine in their diets, countries like France and Italy, also have lower incidences of neurodegenerative diseases,” Beelman added. The study looked at 13 species of mushrooms and found that the popular porcini mushrooms, a staple of Italian cooking, had the highest amount of anti-aging compounds in them.

While the team from Penn State said the average American diet has far less of the antioxidants carried in mushrooms in it, it would reportedly only take a person eating five button mushrooms a day to catch up with their age-defying friends in Europe.

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