Do Mushrooms Have Antioxidants?

Do mushrooms have antioxidants

Mushrooms are already well known for their potent health benefits … and now there’s exciting new research into the question do mushrooms have antioxidants? And they do. A recent study shows that some mushrooms deliver high amounts of two important antioxidants.

The study, published in the journal Food Chemistry, was done by researchers at Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine and Department of Food Science. 

The study focused on two antioxidants, ergothioneine and glutathione. The scientists already knew which mushrooms contained a good amount of ergothioneine … but wanted to investigate the levels of glutathione in these and other mushrooms … as well as the correlation between these two important antioxidants. 

Why Your Dog Needs Antioxidants

When the body produces energy, it creates free radicals. Free radicals are oxygen atoms that have unpaired electrons. These try to repair themselves by stealing other electrons, and that damages cells, proteins and even DNA. This is called oxidative stress, and it leads to chronic inflammation in the body that makes your dog susceptible to disease and early aging. 

Your dog needs antioxidants to help control free radicals and preserve his health and longevity.

RELATED: Read about the best antioxidants for dogs … 

What Are Ergothioneine And Glutathione?

Let’s take a closer look at these two antioxidants and what they do. 

Ergothioneine (ERGO)

ERGO is found throughout the human body, especially in red blood cells, liver, kidneys and semen. It’s thought to interact with other antioxidants to prevent oxidative stress in the mitochondria.

ERGO is an important antioxidant in managing oxidative stress caused by free radicals. It may have anti-aging effects and protect heart and cognitive function. 

In 2007, researchers found that mushrooms are the richest dietary source of ergothioneine. Other foods rich in ERGO include red beans, liver and oat bran. 

Glutathione (GSH)

GSH is present throughout the body and is considered the major intracellular antioxidant. As well as its antioxidant abilities, it’s also important in detoxing toxins and carcinogens and has a strong role in immune function. 

GSH is thought to be critical in maintaining health and preventing disease. Low levels of GSH can cause depleted immunity, leading to increased risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, arthritis and diabetes. 

Foods rich in GSH include cruciferous veggies, grass-fed beef, liver, sardines and eggs

ERGO And GSH Work Together

What’s interesting about ERGO and GSH is that they seem to be interdependent. ERGO relies on GSH for biosynthesis. but ERGO helps maintain GSH levels through its interaction with other cellular defense systems in the body. This is why researchers were interested in the correlation between the two antioxidants in mushrooms.

Antioxidants In Mushrooms

The researchers tested several varieties of mushrooms for both ERGO and GSH to find out the highest antioxidant mushroom.  Here’s their table showing the results.

glucosamine image

They found that GSH levels were high in maitake, pioppini, lion’s mane, porcini, shiitake, yellow oyster and grey oyster species. They observed that GSH in these mushrooms was higher than for any other foods, and stated that “… mushrooms are  likely to be an important source of GSH in the diet …”

In this study, ERGO levels were notably higher in yellow oyster and porcini varieties. Crimini, maitake and shiitake were other ergothioneine mushrooms that had tested higher in previous studies but this time ranked lower. The researchers attributed the changes to differences in crop yields, production techniques and strain differences as well as growth substrate materials. 

The study found that the levels of GSH and ERGO in mushrooms were correlated: mushrooms high in GSH tended to be high in ERGO as well.  They also found that generally the antioxidants were higher in the mushroom caps than the stems. 

The mushrooms with the highest overall amounts of both antioxidants were yellow oyster and porcini. 


The researchers concluded … 

“Our findings, that mushrooms (particularly the yellow oyster and porcini) are a rich dietary source of these critical antioxidants, may have important translational implications, suggesting that mushroom consumption may be associated with reductions in oxidative stress related diseases and disorders.”

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What are the mushrooms with highest antioxidants?

Several mushrooms are high in important antioxidants like glutathione and ergothioneine. Overall, the mushrooms with the highest antioxidants are yellow oyster and porcini mushrooms, as well as maitake, shiitake and crimini.  

Is there glutathione in mushrooms?

Yes, there is! Several mushrooms contain glutathione. Maitake, pioppini, lion’s mane, porcini, shiitake, yellow oyster and grey oyster all have good glutathione content. 

This new research gives you even more reason to add mushrooms to your dog’s diet. Pick up some mushrooms next time you’re at the grocery store and cook them for your dog. 


Michael D. Kalaras, John P. Richie, Ana Calcagnotto, Robert B. Beelman. Mushrooms: A rich source of the antioxidants ergothioneine and glutathioneFood Chemistry, 2017; 233: 429 

Dubost, N. J., Beelman, R. B., Peterson, D., & Royse, D. J. (2006). Identification and quantification of ergothioneine in cultivated mushrooms by liquidchromatography-mass spectroscopyInternational Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, 8, 215–222.

N. Joy Dubost, Boxin Ou, Robert B. Beelman. Quantification of polyphenols and ergothioneine in cultivated mushrooms and correlation to total antioxidant capacity. Food Chemistry, Volume 105, Issue 2, 2007.

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