Mushrooms, though classified as vegetables in the food world, are not technically plants. They belong to the fungi kingdom and although they are not vegetables, mushrooms provide several important nutrients.
It’s common knowledge that the key to getting enough vitamins and minerals in the diet is to eat a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables – the more color, the better. However, this philosophy tends to leave mushrooms in the dark. In many cases, if a food lacks color, it also in turn lacks necessary nutrients. However, mushrooms – which are commonly white – prove quite the contrary.
Benefits of Mushroom
1. Looking Young
Mushrooms contain selenium, an antioxidant that helps to control damage done by free radicals. This, in combination with mushrooms’ offering of Vitamin E, works to protect cells and will help reduce signs of aging.
2. Lose Weight
Because mushrooms are low in calories, but high in nutrients, they can be used to help you control your weight. Plus, they’re versatile enough to be added to host of delicious salads, soups, sauces, or other dishes.
3. Essential Micronutrients
Mushrooms are an excellent source of water-soluble vitamins (vitamin B6, thiamin and vitamin C) and magnesium. They are also very low in calories and high in potassium. In fact, at just 4 calories, one medium Portobello mushroom houses more potassium than a medium-sized banana.
4. Diabetes Management
Between the obesity epidemic and the proliferation of food deserts, it’s no wonder that diabetes rates have skyrocketed. Mushrooms are considered a good tool for dietary management of this condition, as they contain natural insulin and enzymes which help the body break down sugar and starch in other foods.
5. Immune Health
As we’ve mentioned many times before, food–not pills–is your best chance for a strong immune system and overall health. Long before we had the word “superfood,” humans were reaping the immune benefits of eating mushrooms. As one of the highest antioxidant foods in the world, it’s no surprised that mushrooms have been found to stimulate and regulate the body’s immune system. Research also indicates that mushrooms can help reduce risk of breast and prostate cancer, two of the most common kinds.
6. Lower Blood Pressure
Mushrooms offer up a healthy dose of potassium, and research shows that diets that include natural sources of potassium are important in reducing high blood pressure because potassium lessens the effects of sodium on the body. This also helps to reduce the risk of stroke.
7. Strengthens the Immune System
It was found that one or two servings of dried shiitake mushrooms strengthened the immune system.
8. Good for Digestion
Mushrooms have good dietary fiber and fungal enzymes to help with digestion.
9. Good for the Heart
Eating mushrooms can help to lower blood pressure and decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases because they are high in potassium, fiber and low in sodium.
Mushrooms are an excellent source of selenium, a trace mineral antioxidant that works with vitamin E to protect the body’s cells from the damaging effects of free radicals. Selenium has shown to greatly protect against heart disease, arthritis, and numerous types of cancer.
11. Versatile for cooking
Mushrooms can most certainly stand alone but they also taste great in just about any food preparation including salads, soups, stews, omelets, and stir-fried dishes. In addition, their “meat-like” consistency makes mushrooms a popular substitute in vegetarian entrees.
12. Help liver problems
There was a study done in Beijing, China, in which scientists were trying to figure out whether or not Cordyceps (a type of mushroom) could have a beneficial effect on liver ailments – specifically Hepatitis B. The results were astonishing. 81% of the patients taking the Cordyceps had a significant reduction in liver enzyme levels (consistently high levels are indicative of serious liver malfunction or disease) and also had decreased liver inflammation.
13. Reduce risk of cancer
The Chinese have been using mushrooms medicinally for centuries. They also don’t historically have a lot of the chronic diseases that we have. Scientific research has now discovered that mushrooms have the ability to fight cancer, inflammation and viruses.