Nowadays, many do not value mushrooms but for thousands of years they have been a standard in traditional and folk medicines. They offer a variety of healing and cleansing properties. Virtually all variants have varying levels of polysaccharides, indoles, carotenoids, and polyphenols which have been shown to have strong anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anticancer effects.
All About Mushrooms
Mushrooms are a form of fungus that are typically classified as a vegetable. They are brimming with ergosterol which the body can transform into vitamin D using ultraviolet light. There are more than 10,000 types of mushrooms around the world but they all share some similarities such as a stem topped by a robust round cap with grills beneath and at the base of the cap. The United States and China are the world’s leading mushroom growers.
Health Benefits of Mushrooms
The small, capped fungi are brimming with vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and protein that all work together to offer innumerable health benefits when consumed.
- Vitamin C
- B Vitamins
Nutrients per serving do vary depending on mushroom type. A single cup of crimini boasts:
- 15 calories
- 0.2 grams of fat
- 1.4 grams of sugar
- 2.2 grams of protein
- 2.3 grams of carbohydrates
- 0.7 grams of fiber
Blood Pressure Control
Mushrooms have the reputation of being a rich source of potassium which counteracts the sodium in your body. Potassium also appears to lower the tension levels within blood vessels which helps to naturally lower your blood pressure.
Immune System Assistance
Nowadays, everyone is looking for a way to effectively boost their immune system. Mushrooms appear to stimulate the microphages which are located in the immune system and tasked with fighting foreign bodies. The entire goal is to make you less susceptible to certain kinds of diseases, viruses, and bacteria.
Fiber appears to help sufferers of type 2 diabetes by lowering blood glucose. One cup of sliced, raw mushrooms contains one gram of fiber. Typically, adults should eat from 22.4 to 336 grams of dietary fiber per day. Mushrooms, vegetables, whole grain foods, beans, and certain vegetables are all ideal sources of the needed fiber.
Studies have shown that the antioxidants contained in mushrooms might act as a preventive for breast, prostate, lung, or other types of cancer. One key source of preventative is probably the high levels of selenium found in the mushrooms which research has shown acts as a preventative. Mushrooms also contain levels of vitamin D which many believe also work to prevent some forms of cancer.
As with anything, there are always varying studies that disagree. Some studies have shown that the choline found in mushrooms prevents some forms of cancer but other research shows that the choline can actually increase a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer.
Dining on mushrooms, exercise and certain lifestyle changes all seem to assist in weight loss. Many people opt to substitute their mean consumption with mushrooms as a viable source of protein. You can often do away with 20 percent of your daily meat consumption and replace it with mushrooms so it lowers your BMI (body max index) which can in turn reduce your belly’s circumference. By losing weight, your overall health can improve and things have a snowball effect such as the risk of lowering hypertension and eliminating metabolic disorders.
Mushrooms contain high levels of vitamin C, potassium, or fiber which are all crucial in maintaining cardiovascular health. Potassium helps regulate your blood pressure and aids in your cardiovascular health. The American Heart Association (AHA)suggests increasing our daily consumption of potassium to maintain or improve your heart health. Ideally, an adult should consume 4,7000 milligrams (mg) of potassium per day. The AHA lists mushrooms as a leading choice for high potassium foods to regularly consume to help your heart health.
Vitamin C deficiency often leads to cardiovascular disease so consuming the vital vitamin can actually help prevent a variety of heart diseases. Eating a diet rich in mushrooms helps to provide your body with much-needed vitamin C.
The consumption of fiber lowers blood cholesterol levels which is beneficial in preventing heart problems. The fiber, known as beta-glucans, is in many types of mushrooms and forms the cellular walls, especially in the stem.
During pregnancy, women typically take a prenatal vitamin that is high in folic acid (folate) which is believed to assist in the fetal health. Mushrooms are a great source of folate. A cup contains 16.3 grams of foliate. Most adults should take 400 mcg of folate a day.
Around the world there are about 2,000 edible types of mushrooms but in the United States you won’t find a huge assortment at stores.
Usually you will see the following for sale in the U.S.:
- Brown cremini
- White button
- Wood ear
Many locals will head out into the woods to pick wild mushrooms but this is not advisable if you do not know what you’re doing because many varieties are filled with deadly toxins and look similar to the edible varieties.
How to Pick Mushrooms
Always pick mushrooms that feel firm to the touch and show no noticeable bruising. They should feel dry to the touch and not slimy. You should notice no withering on the skin’s surface. Once you bring them home, store the mushrooms in the refrigerator. You should always wash them and trim away the dried section of the stump prior to eating or cooking each morsel.
Mushrooms are one of the cleanest grown foods in the US with low trace amounts of pesticides. However, they are usually covered in soil and grit so washing them is ideal.
You can eat mushrooms raw or cooked. They are also a welcome addition to any recipes. Why not start reaping the health benefits of mushrooms today?