Truth About Agaritine in Portobello Mushrooms: The Risks of this Popular Superfood 

Truth About Agaritine in Portobello Mushrooms: The Risks of this Popular Superfood 

Hydrazine is a chemical compound with the chemical formula N2H4. It is a colorless, flammable, and highly toxic liquid that has a strong odor similar to that of ammonia. Hydrazine is commonly used in various industrial and military applications, including rocket propellants ,and jet fuel. Moreover, a reducing agent in the production of pharmaceuticals and agricultural chemicals. In this article we will explain agaritine in portobello mushrooms and the risk involved consuming them.

What is Hydrazine and Why is it Used?

Hydrazine is highly reactive and can spontaneously ignite in the presence of certain materials, such as oxidizing agents or metals. It is also a powerful reducing agent. Meaning that it can donate electrons to other molecules and cause them to undergo chemical changes. Because of its high reactivity and toxicity, hydrazine is handled and used with extreme caution. It requires special training and equipment to handle safely.

Hydrazine chemical formula

What are the Health Effects of Hydrazine Exposure?

Exposure to hydrazine can cause a range of health effects. Furthermore, irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, as well as skin burns and respiratory distress. Long-term exposure to hydrazine has been linked to an increased risk of liver and lung cancer.

What are Agaritines and How are They Formed?

Agaritines are hydrazine derivatives that are present in various species of the Agaricus genus of mushrooms. This includes the common button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) and the horse mushroom (Agaricus arvensis). These compounds are formed when hydrazine compounds react with amino acids in the mushroom. In which, are known to be toxic to humans.

Agaritine in Portobello Mushrooms: Explained

The toxic effects of agaritines can range from mild gastrointestinal symptoms to more severe symptoms. Such as liver and kidney damage. High levels of hydrazine can damage the liver by causing oxidative stress, inflammation, and disrupting normal liver function. Some studies have also suggested a possible link between long-term exposure to agaritines and an increased risk of certain types of cancer. These types of cancer includes, but not limited to;

Lung Cancer

Known respiratory irritant ,hydrazine, has been shown to cause lung damage in animal studies. It is believed that exposure to high levels of hydrazine can damage the DNA in cells, leading to the development of cancerous cells. In addition, hydrazine can also impair the immune system, making it more difficult for the body to fight off cancer cells.

Bladder Cancer

Hydrazine has been shown to damage DNA and cause mutations in bladder cells, which can lead to the formation of cancerous tumors. It is believed that hydrazine’s ability to damage DNA is due to its ability to generate highly reactive molecules called free radicals, which can attack and alter DNA molecules. Over time, these DNA alterations can accumulate and lead to the development of bladder cancer.

What are the Health Effects of Agaritines in Humans?

Agaritines have been found in portobello mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus). Portobello mushrooms are a mature form of the common button mushroom. Like other Agaricus species, they contain agaritines as a natural component of their chemical makeup. They are amino acid derivatives that have been shown to be toxic to animals in large doses. While some studies have suggested that agaritines may be carcinogenic in humans, the evidence is not conclusive. Therefore, more research is needed to fully understand the potential health effects of these toxins.

How Much Agaritine is Found in Portobello Mushrooms?

The amount of agaritine in portobello mushrooms can vary depending on a variety of factors. Including the growing conditions, harvesting methods, and storage conditions. In general, portobello mushrooms contain less agaritine than some other mushroom species, such as the white button mushroom.

One study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in 2001 analyzed the agaritine content of several species. These species of mushrooms, including portobello mushrooms. The study found that the agaritine content of portobello mushrooms ranged from 0.22 to 1.49 mg/g of fresh weight, with an average content of 0.87 mg/g. This means that a typical portobello mushroom weighing 100 grams would contain between 0.022 and 0.149 mg of agaritine. Assuming an average concentration of 0.5 milligrams of agaritine per gram of mushroom, you would need to consume approximately 272 grams or 9.6 ounces of portobello mushrooms to reach the safe daily dose of 136 milligrams of agaritine for a 68-kilogram person (150lb)

Is it Safe to Eat Portobello Mushrooms Despite the Presence of Agaritines?

While the toxic threshold of agaritines in humans is not well established. However, studies have shown that high doses of agaritines can be toxic to animals. In one study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in 1999, rats were fed a diet containing agaritine for two years. The study found that rats fed the highest doses of agaritine showed signs of liver and kidney damage. While rats fed lower doses did not show any adverse effects. The highest dose used in the study was equivalent to approximately 2 grams of agaritine per kilogram of body weight per day.

It’s important to note that the toxic dose of agaritines in humans is likely much higher than the dose used in the rat study. Humans may have a different tolerance for these toxins. Additionally, it’s unlikely that most people would consume enough portobello mushrooms in a day to exceed the toxic threshold of agaritines. Even if they were consuming mushrooms with a relatively high agaritine content.

Final Thoughts

Yes, agaritine can play a role if portobello mushrooms are undercooked. Agaritine is a natural compound found in mushrooms, including portobello mushrooms, and has been linked to potential health risks if consumed in large amounts.

Agaritine is known to break down into a potentially toxic compound called hydrazine when mushrooms are cooked or heated at high temperatures. While cooking mushrooms generally reduces agaritine content, undercooking may not sufficiently break down the compound, potentially leading to increased hydrazine levels.

While the health risks associated with consuming hydrazine from undercooked mushrooms are not well understood, it is generally recommended to cook mushrooms thoroughly to reduce the risk of consuming harmful compounds.


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