Most of the food available to us these days is produced with industrial agricultural practices or through factory farming. With these type of practices the goal focuses on the production of quantity of food rather than quality of food. This has led to a decline in the nutrition that is available from the foods we eat. To compensate for this reduction in nutrition, many people are turning to wild edibles and whole food supplements. Edible mushrooms are one source of wild foods that are becoming more popular as the many health benefits scientists are discovering come to light.
Edible Mushrooms: The Wave of the Future
While edible mushrooms have been used for their health properties for thousands of years by other cultures, our modern society is just starting to really recognize how these wild edibles can be beneficial for health and nutrition. Probably the best known use for fungi for medicinal purposes is penicillin. Since that discovery however, scientists such as Paul Stamets, presenter at the TEDMED conference 2011, have researched various varieties of mushrooms to uncover the benefits they have to offer. According to Stamets, only around 14,000 of the over 150,000 mushroom species have been identified. Of those studied, various mushrooms have been found to have benefits for improving blood flow, balancing cholesterol and blood sugar, regenerating nerves, improving immune system function, supporting the kidney and liver, and reducing the risk of heart disease as well as many other functions that can improve health. According to George Hudler, a professor in Cornell University’s Department of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology, increased knowledge of chemical properties in mushrooms will make them more desirable in the future, hopefully even in mainstream medicine.
Edible Mushrooms Benefits
One of the discoveries made about edible mushrooms is the antioxidant properties they have. Antioxidants are very important in promoting a healthy immune system and in the prevention of disease as they help fight off the damage done by free radicals to our body cells and to repair damage already done. One of the interests in mushroom research is studying how the antioxidant properties could protect against conditions such as heart disease and cancer. Even your common white button mushrooms have health benefits as this variety has been found to be a good natural source of vitamin B complex. Although there is much more study needed with all the various mushroom species, many scientists today are convinced that edible mushrooms will be the “new frontier of modern medicine”. Let’s take a look at a few of the ones that have been researched and the types of benefits that are being accredited to them.
Agaricu Blazei – is known to contain polysaccharides and the potent antioxidant ergosterol, research interests have revolved around this mushroom’s benefits for blood glucose, cholesterol, circulation, inflammation, liver function and immune system function.
Agarikon – is a tree based conk mushroom with research interests in the areas of benefits for inflammation, age related memory function, immune system, oxidative stress and cellular support.
Black Trumpet – has polysaccharides, polyphenols, beta glucans and trace minerals with research interests specifically in the area of benefits for immune system function, blood glucose and cellular integrity.
Turkey Tail – contains the polysaccharide-protein complexes PSK and PSP which are water soluble, contain polysaccharides, beta glucans and protein. Research interests with this edible mushroom have concentrated on the benefits to immune modulation, digestive system, circulation, lymph system, boosting the immune system, liver function and cellular system.
Cordyceps – is high in proteins, plant sterols, polysaccharides, antioxidants and nucleoside derivatives with research focused on the benefits for immune system, liver function, sports performance, endocrine system, cardiovascular system, circulatory system, immune modulation, cellular oxidation, blood glucose and kidney function.
Lion’s Mane – has NGF (nerve growth factor) with research interested in the benefits for stimulation of nerve growth, neuropathy, age related memory function, intestinal ulceration, mental clarity, and the neurological system.
Maitake – is especially valuable for nutrition with its beneficial phospholipids, unsaturated fatty acids, polysaccharides, antioxidants, beta glucans and plant sterols such as ergosterol. Research is focused on the benefits for the immune system, liver function, endocrine system, circulatory system, bone and skeletal system, blood glucose, skin, immune modulation and cardiovascular system.
Oyster Mushroom – is rich in beta glucans, B vitamins, protein, minerals, polysaccharides, and ergothioneine (a potent antioxidant). Research has been focused on the benefits for the cardiovascular system, cellular oxidation, inflammation, circulatory system, and immune system.
Poria Cocos – is a polypore tuber found on the root of pine trees that Chinese medicine has utilized for over 5,000 years. It is a rich source of beta glucans, polysaccharides, fiber, and triterpenes. Research has been focused on the benefits for the gastrointestinal system, nervous system, inflammation, joint and cartilage systems, kidney function and cardiovascular system.
Reishi – has 130 identified triterpenoid compounds which contribute to making it a complete whole food rich in proteins, enzymes, minerals, beta glucans, and complex polysaccharides. Research has been especially interested in its benefits to the cardiovascular system, liver function, circulation, cholesterol, inflammation, stress response, oxidative stress, immune modulation, cellular damage and immune system.
Shiitake – is a mushroom especially valuable for nutrition as it is rich in beta glucans, polysaccharides, glycoproteins, B vitamins, and ergosterol. Research continues to focus on the benefits for the immune system, cardiovascular system, immune modulation, liver function, cholesterol, and cellular oxidation. This is probably one of the most intensely researched and used edible mushrooms for health benefits.
The Easy Way to Go Wild
An easy, convenient way to get all the benefits of edible mushrooms is from this wild foods line of whole food supplements. This line not only gives you the benefits of reishi, maitake, cordyceps, wild black trumpet, and Poria cocos mushrooms, but also the whole foods nutrition of wild foods from the Earth and the Earth’s water sources. This supplement in particular has a combination of nine different algae for full-spectrum nutrition and this supplement combines the nutritional benefits of whole AFA bluegreen algae, red beta algae, and custom-grown wheat sprouts working together to supply superior antioxidant nutrition. If you are just looking for a supplement with the power of edible mushrooms, this supplement is the one for you.
However you choose to get your wild whole foods nutrition, consider using sustainable wild edibles to supplement your diet. We don’t have to settle for less than optimal food sources. Finding sustainable, local organic foods and supplementing with wild edibles can help our bodies get the nutrition it needs to work at its best.
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