With all the nutrition and health benefits being discovered from mushrooms, they may seem to be magic, but scientists are discovering many vitamins, minerals, and other components found in them responsible for the wide array of medicinal uses they are credited with. Mushrooms are certainly not new when it comes to culinary or medicinal uses, as many Asian countries have used them medicinally for centuries, but Western science is finding a whole lot more benefits of mushrooms for health from these fruiting bodies of fungi than you may have imagined. Edible mushrooms are packed with vitamins and minerals that are hard to find in other foods and that boost immune system function, support heart health, aid in keeping blood sugar levels balanced, fight cellular damage from free radicals, help keep cholesterol levels stable, reduce allergy symptoms, fight inflammation and have even been used successfully in treating cancers.
Benefits of Mushrooms
Some of the great nutrition you get from mushrooms that have powerful benefits for health are antioxidants, vitamin D, iron, selenium, B vitamins, unsaturated fatty acids, polysaccharides, proteins, beta glucans, fiber and enzymes. And even better all this nutrition is available with a small amount of calories. Some of the best edible mushrooms for health benefits are maitake, cordyceps, oyster, Lions Mane, Agaricus Blazei Murill, shiitake, Turkey Tail, and reishi. But even button, crimini and portobello mushrooms which are often easier to find can give you lots of nutrition according to the American Society for Nutrition. Studies they have done report button mushrooms boost the immune system by encouraging growth of dendritic cells found in bone marrow and by boosting the body’s defense against germs. There are experts such as Andrew Weil, M.D., that warn against eating the button, crimini and portobello type mushrooms raw however because they can contain carcinogens which other types of mushrooms don’t have. They advise cooking these at high temperatures to make them safe to eat. Scientists are still exploring all the various uses in the medical field in which mushrooms can play a positive role. Here are some of the conditions scientists are finding can be prevented or treated with mushrooms.
Cancer – Certain components in mushrooms have been found in scientific studies to kill cancer cells. Besides an abundance of antioxidants that fight off free radical damage, mushrooms contain lectin, krestin, polysaccharides, hispolon, psilocybin, and lentinan which help keep tumors from forming. There are also many studies citing the use of mushrooms as beneficial in preventing and treating breast cancer, prostate cancer, gastric cancer, esophageal cancer, colon cancer, and lung cancer due to them being a rich source of components such as selenium, Vitamin D, and folic acid.
Diabetes – Vitamin D, polysaccharides, and beta glucan found in mushrooms have all been reported as effective for stabilizing blood sugar levels in patients with diabetes as well as preventing hyperglycemia with the high levels of fiber and protein mushrooms provide. Studies have shown benefits in the area of diabetes using mushrooms to lower glucose absorption, increase the release of insulin, reduce inflammation and provide enzymes and compounds similar to insulin to help breakdown starch and sugar.
Cardiovascular Disease – Vitamin D, found in many edible mushrooms, has been found to help reduce inflammation around the heart and vessel walls for prevention of heart disease. In addition, mushrooms have been found to help in preventing atherosclerosis, lower LDL and triglyceride cholesterol levels, prevent stroke, reduce spread of renal disease, and lower high blood pressure levels all of which help in the prevention of heart disease. The high fiber, low fat, beta glucan and antioxidant properties found in mushrooms, as well as being a rich source of potassium, are cited as the reasons these fungi are so beneficial for cardiovascular disease.
Other Benefits – Mushrooms that have been exposed to ultraviolet light produce vitamin D just like our own bodies do and you won’t find that from other plant based foods. You can get antioxidants that combat free radical damage from bright colored fruits and veggies, but a Penn State University study reported that crimini and portobello mushrooms have the same antioxidant power that you get from red peppers. Mushrooms deliver a variety of B vitamins that help the body convert food into energy including riboflavin and niacin. Selenium can help improve mood and reduce the risk of bladder cancer. You’ll find 47% of the recommended daily amount of selenium in raw crimini mushrooms and 45% in cooked shiitake mushrooms and even button mushrooms have 17%. There are many other health benefits from mushrooms undergoing study such as the role they can play in weight loss, boosting immunity, supporting brain health, and the anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-biotic properties they possess. You can read more about these types of benefits as well as find some tasty recipes that use mushrooms in this source article.
Another Way to Get Your Daily Mushroom Dose
If you have trouble finding a good supply of certain mushrooms in your area or just don’t find the time to cook with mushrooms, you can still work a variety of them into your diet with whole food supplements. This mushroom and algae supplement combines the mushrooms that have been found to support the immune system and boost energy and is a product that is certified organic, Kosher, Halal, paleo, vegan, dairy free, and GMO free. If you have an active lifestyle where you need to really be able to focus and have mental clarity, then you might prefer this wholefood supplement that gives you the mushroom benefits of Lion’s Mane, but also has organic wild bluegreen algae, eleuthero, Ginkgo biloba, bee pollen, wheatgrass juice, and noni. You can get the benefits of reishi and oyster mushrooms as well as ubiquinol, organic flaxseed oil, olive biophenols, and wild bluegreen algae that all combine to give you antioxidant benefits and support the cardiovascular system for increased energy with yet another wholefood algae supplement. And finally we offer you the maximum mushroom immunity boosting power with this mushroom supplement that contains reishi, cordyceps, maitake, shiitake, Turkey Tail, and Agaricus blazei mushrooms with astragalus, beta glucan and wild bluegreen algae.
Low calorie, packed with nutrients and full of health benefits – mushrooms just can’t be beat. So find ways to add these nutritious fungi to your diet.