Why I Cook More Often with Mushrooms–
Mushrooms are one of Nature’s premier superfoods and are packed with nutrients and antioxidants that provide many important health benefits. But besides being excellent for our health, fresh mushrooms are easy to cook with and can be worked into a wide range of recipes. Plus, dried mushrooms or mushroom powder make cooking with mushrooms convenient and flexible and they provide the same health benefits of fresh mushrooms!
9 Benefits of this Amazing Superfood
Let’s take a look at nine benefits we get from this amazing superfood!
1. Mushrooms Are Packed with Antioxidants
Mushrooms are loaded with antioxidant properties. Antioxidants neutralize “free radicals” released in the body that can damage cells, potentially causing cancer, and have been linked to aging and cardiovascular disease. Fortunately, mushrooms are packed with antioxidants, including:
- Ergothioneine (ergo)- an important amino acid that the human body cannot produce.
- Selenium- reduces inflammation and stimulates the immune system.
- Glutathione- a powerful antioxidant that can assist protein production.
2. Mushrooms Are a Rich Source of Vitamin D
Mushrooms provide a rich source Vitamin D. This important vitamin is essential for optimal health and normal bodily functions.. For example, Vitamin D helps increase the absorption of calcium, which is necessary for creating strong bones and maintaining bone health. Vitamin D is also important for regulating insulin levels and helps increase the absorption of other vitamins and minerals, such as magnesium. Vitamin D deficiency puts us at risk for many diseases.
3. Mushrooms Help Fight Infection
Eating mushrooms every day may help keep the doctor away! A study conducted at the University of Florida found that daily consumption of Shitake mushrooms led to a reduction in inflammatory proteins and improved the functioning of gamma delta T-cells. Eating mushrooms helps fight off colds and maintain a healthy immune system so your body can protect you against invaders such as bacteria, viruses, toxins and prevent disease.
4. Mushrooms May Help Prevent Cancer
Researchers have found that mushrooms exhibit many anti-cancer properties. Mushrooms stimulate the immune system and may help the body combat cancer. Plus, mushrooms help increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy. Mushrooms may have broader use in cancer treatments, so they are a focus in ongoing cancer research.
5. Mushrooms Are Prebiotic
Mushrooms may have a positive influence on blood sugar regulation and be beneficial for people who have or are at risk of developing diabetes. When mice were regularly fed white button mushrooms, they enjoyed higher levels of beneficial bacteria that were involved in the regulation of glucose.
6. Mushrooms Support the Immune System
Studies have found evidence that Reishi mushroom have positive benefits for people who are dealing various chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, liver or kidney disease, respiratory disease, cancer, or viral infections. Eastern medicine has used Reishi mushrooms for centuries to support the immune system, reduce stress and improve sleep. Reishi mushrooms also help improve mood and boost energy levels.
7. Mushrooms Improve Heart Health
Many mushrooms are rich in fiber, vitamin C, and potassium, which are important for our improved heart health. Shiitake mushrooms have three compounds that may help lower blood cholesterol levels.
- Eritadenine – helps an enzyme involved in producing cholesterol
- Sterols- helps block cholesterol absorption in the gut.
- Beta glucans- type of fiber that can lower cholesterol
8. Meanwhile, Mushrooms Are Low in Carbs and Calories
Anyone looking to go on a low carb diet, or any diet at all, should consider making mushrooms a regular part of the menu. Mushrooms are low in both carbohydrates and calories, making them an excellent diet food. So not only can you enjoy all of the above benefits, but you’ll also keep your carbohydrate and calorie count low, which could help you lose weight!
9. Mushrooms are Nature’s Botanical Medicine
Mushrooms are fungi that come in many shapes, sizes and colors. Research is underway to better understand how the chemical compounds in various mushrooms actually work in our bodies to support our health and prevent or treat disease. The scientific evidence is overwhelmingly clear that mushrooms are Nature’s natural pharmacy. Incorporating mushrooms more often into our diet can help in many ways, from fighting infections and colds to preventing life-threatening diseases. They are easy to mix into all kinds of recipes.
Use Mushrooms to Enhance Taste and Health Benefits of Food
Mushrooms enhance the taste and the health benefits of the food we cook. It’s time to get creative with adding mushrooms to recipes. There are endless possibilities. What are your favorite ways to eat mushrooms?
Enjoy and Live Well with Zest!
Written by Bev Hope
Reviewed by Board Certified MD