Oxidative stress caused by an imbalanced metabolism and an excess of reactive oxygen species (ROS) lead to a range of health disorders in humans. Our endogenous antioxidant defense mechanisms and our dietary intake of antioxidants potentially regulate our oxidative homeostasis. Numerous synthetic antioxidants can effectively improve defense mechanisms, but because of their adverse toxic effects under certain conditions, preference is given to natural compounds. Consequently, the requirements for natural, alternative sources of antioxidant foods identified in edible mushrooms, as well as the mechanistic action involved in their antioxidant properties, have increased rapidly. Chemical composition and antioxidant potential of mushrooms have been intensively studied. Edible mushrooms might be used directly in enhancement of antioxidant defenses through dietary supplementation to reduce the level of oxidative stress. Wild or cultivated, they have been related to significant antioxidant properties due to their bioactive compounds, such as polyphenols, polysaccharides, vitamins, carotenoids and minerals. Antioxidant and health benefits, observed in edible mushrooms, seem an additional reason for their traditional use as a popular delicacy food. This review discusses the consumption of edible mushrooms as a powerful instrument in maintaining health, longevity and life quality.
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