For thousands of years, mushrooms have been used for both nutritional benefits and medicinal properties all over the world.
Healthy Mushroom Benefits
Wild mushrooms were used by the ancient Greeks to provide strength for warriors in battle. Mushrooms were considered 'Food of the Gods' by Ancient Romans. The Chinese culture has treasured mushrooms as an “elixir of life.”
Mushrooms are considered a vegetable when it comes to dietary recommendations, but they are actually neither a plant nor animal.
They belong to the fungal kingdom, and have several key differences that distinguish them from plants and animals.
For example, unlike plants and animals, fungi have no chlorophyll and exist on decaying material.
Yet fungi have received only a small fraction of the attention they deserve.
The best estimate suggests that there are between 2.2 and 3.8 million species of fungi on the Earth. As many as 10 times the estimated number of plant species.
At most, a mere 8% of all fungal species have been described.
An 80g serving of mushrooms count as one of your five-a-day – that’s a serving 14 button mushrooms.
- 6 Kcal / 23 KJ
- 0.8g Protein
- 0.2g Fat
- 0.2g Carbohydrates
- 0.6g Fibre
- 302 mg Potassium
- 32 mcg Folate
The nutritional content of mushrooms alone is enough to catch the interest of anyone wanting to improve their overall health.
There is little fat, sodium, and calories in mushrooms, and they do not contain cholesterol, sugar, or gluten. They contain all the essential amino acids, are rich in fiber, are anti inflammatory and have a higher protein content than most vegetables.
Read More: How Mushrooms Heal Our World
More than 2,000 varieties of mushrooms are edible, but the most common is the white button mushroom. Other popular eating mushrooms include cremini mushroom, portobello mushroom, enoki, oyster, maitake and shiitake.
Mushrooms are grown in nearly every US state, but Pennsylvania produces approximately 60% of the total mushroom yield. Mushrooms have a unique nutritional profile, containing B vitamins, selenium, copper, potassium, beta glucans, and powerful antioxidants glutathione and ergothioneine.
Of special note are beta-glucans, a form of soluble dietary fiber. Beta-glucans are linked to improved cholesterol levels and heart health, and they can also help regulate blood sugar levels.
The nutrients, vitamins, and minerals contained in mushrooms can help the body:
- Get energy from food
- Form red blood cells
- Protect heart health
- Maintain brain health
- Combat microbes
- Support healthy gut bacteria
- Maintain blood sugar levels
- Help reduce high blood pressure
Plus, many mushrooms can help ease inflammation, which may help improve the efficiency of the immune system.
Rich in Vitamins B and D
Mushrooms are one of the only non fortified dietary sources of vitamin D.
Exposing them to uv light can increase levels of Vitamin D. They are also rich in a variety of B vitamins such as:
- Riboflavin (B2)
- Folate (B9)
- Thiamine (B1)
- Pantothenic acid (B5)
- Niacin (B3)
These vitamins have a variety of benefits. Riboflavin supports red blood cells, and Niacin is good for the digestive system and for maintaining healthy skin. Pantothenic acid is good for the nervous system and hormone production.
Mushrooms also contain choline, which is a nutrient that is somewhat similar to B vitamins. Choline helps with learning and memory. It also assists in muscle movement, the maintenance of cellular membranes, and the transmission of nerve impulses.
Rich in Minerals
Mushrooms are also one of the best sources of minerals in the produce aisle, including minerals like:
They also contain copper and potassium, which are both highly important for the body.
Copper supports red blood cell production, improving the delivery of oxygen through the body and maintaining healthy bones and nerves. A cup of mushrooms can provide about a third of the daily recommended amount of copper.
Potassium supports heart, muscle, and nerve function.
Other Health Benefits of Mushrooms
Mushrooms are not just good for you because of their nutritional value. Many types of mushrooms have other incredible health benefits.
Enoki and Maitake mushrooms may help boost the immune system and combat cancer, while Maitake may also help reduce blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
Lion's Mane, Chaga, and Turkey Tail are also powerhouses on this front. These wild mushrooms have received a large amount of scientific interest in their potential to help prevent and treat cancerous cells and tumor growths. Turkey Tail especially is often used as a complementary treatment alongside chemotherapy.
Even Shiitake mushrooms and portobello mushrooms, which can easily be bought in many grocery stores, can potentially help combat tumors, high cholesterol levels, and viruses.
Full of Antioxidants
Mushrooms are rich in antioxidants such as:
- Vitamin C
These antioxidants help protect the body from free radicals, toxic byproducts caused by your metabolism, and other bodily processes. Too many can cause oxidative stress, which can harm cells and cause conditions like heart disease and cancer. By combating free radicals, antioxidants boost the immune system and protect against damage from aging.
Two especially notable antioxidants are ergothioneine and glutathione. They may help combat oxidative stress associated with diseases that come with age, cancer, coronary heart disease, and Alzheimer's.
Porcini mushrooms are especially high in these antioxidants, while more common mushrooms like white button mushrooms have lower levels.
How to Eat Mushrooms
There are many ways to incorporate mushrooms into your daily diet.
Adding mushrooms like cremini, portobello, enoki, oyster, maitake, and shiitake is an easy way to make a meal healthier and more delicious.
Mushrooms are incredibly versatile and you can cook them in a variety of ways. Include mushrooms with eggs, pasta, pizza, and soup or saute them in olive oil a side dish.
You can also make tea from mushrooms, which is especially useful for more woody fungi like Turkey Tail. Alternatively, mushrooms can be ingested as a supplement.
Mushrooms as Supplements
Mushrooms are full of essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that can help you maintain your overall health and reduce the risk of a variety of conditions.
When searching for mushroom supplements, be sure to buy from a trusted source and seek medical advice. This will ensure you are getting quality supplements that will benefit your body the most.
Check out our products today for certified organic mushroom teas, extracts, and other products to boost your overall health.