Mushrooms may be one of the most underrated foods when it comes to overall health and wellness in the field of nutrition. At their core, mushrooms are edible fungi that contain a host of proteins, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antibiotics and antioxidants. They are categorized as Saprophytes, plants that do not contain chlorophyll and extract the nutrients from dead/dying plant and animal matter in order to grow.
While there are around 140,000 species of mushrooms, not all of them are safe for human consumption. Those that are, however, has a variety of health benefits.
Cholesterol: The fiber and enzymes contained in mushrooms have been shown to help lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure. They also contain high levels of lean protein, which promote healthy utilization of cholesterol in the body.
Diabetes: Mushrooms contain natural insulin and enzymes to aid in the breakdown of sugars and starches in the bloodstream. They also aid in the proper functioning of the pancreas, liver, and other endocrine glands, thereby promoting proper insulin production and regulation.
Immune system: One of the antioxidants contained by mushrooms is Ergothioneine, which is beneficial in boosting the immune system as protecting the body against free radicals. Ergothioneine is an amino acid, and also contains sulfur which is often deficient in most people.
Weight management: In a study conducted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, trading one portion of red meat for one cup of white capped mushrooms lead to significant weight loss. In fact, mushrooms are one of the only foods that can be eaten in excess with not negative side effects due to their plant protein content, low carbohydrate value and non-existent fat content.
Anemia: Anemia is characterized by someone who has low levels of iron in their bloodstream, which can result in fatigue, headaches, reduced neural function, as well as possible digestive issues. Mushrooms are a good source of iron, making them particularly beneficial for vegetarians and vegans. In addition to this, the body is able to absorb over 90% of the iron found in mushrooms.
Breast Cancer & Prostate Cancer: Mushrooms have taken on a medical role when it comes to the prevention and treatment of both breast cancer and prostate cancer. They contain Beta-Glucans and conjugated Linoleic acid, both of which have anti-carcinogenic effects. Linoleic acids suppresses the effects of excess estrogen in the body, which can lead to the expression of breast cancer cells. On the other hand, beta-glucans inhibits the growth of prostate cancer cells. Several studies show the benefits of introducing mushrooms medicinally to the diet in both scenarios.
Bone health: Mushrooms also contain high levels of calcium, which are important for bone strength and the prevention of osteoporosis.
Not sure how to cook mushrooms? Check out this recipe for sauteed mushrooms with a just a few ingredients that you can add to just about any meal.