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Why You Should Be Eating Mushrooms: Their Many Powerful Health Benefits

by Ella Wilson

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From lowering cholesterol levels to weight management, the health benefits of mushrooms are abundant. Classified under the Kingdom Fungi (and therefore are not plants) aside from being delectable, mushrooms can also deliver a tremendous boost to your immune system!

We all are familiar with mushrooms and their delicious taste, but do you know about their miraculous, beneficial powers?  Mushrooms not only can make one scrumptious, healthy delicacy but also can improve your health by protecting you against infections and chronic diseases. They are also low in calories rich in vitamins, antioxidants, proteins, minerals, antibiotics, and amino acids.  Here are just some of the many health benefits of mushrooms:


It Lowers Cholesterol


Mushrooms are helpful when it comes to lowering the body’s cholesterol level. Increased intake of mushrooms has been found to assist eight management as they contain no cholesterol, fat, and have a low carbohydrate count. Another reason why it’s potent in decreasing cholesterol level is that it is high in fiber. Moreover, they provide lean protein, which plays a major role in the burning of cholesterol when consumed.

Some mushroom varieties such as the Shiitake mushroom, often used in Japanese cuisine, contain a compound that helps the liver burn cholesterol in our body. This is important in the prevention of various chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and high blood pressure.


cooked Shitake mushrooms

Image credit: Huffingtonpost.co.uk


It Boosts the Immune System


Mushrooms are usually packed with a wide range of antioxidants, which provide you a major boost to your immune system. Among the antioxidants present in mushrooms is ergothioneine, which is very effective in protecting the cells in our body as well as boosting the immune system.  Another great antioxidant found in mushrooms is selenium. The main source of selenium is animal protein, and this makes mushrooms an excellent source of selenium for vegetarians.

Selenium helps in getting rid of free radicals from our bodies that may otherwise result in damage to body cells. The amounts of selenium in mushrooms differ on species, but the majority of commonly consumed mushrooms have significant levels of this important mineral.

Apart from antioxidants, mushrooms also deliver antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties.  This means that they can effectively combat harmful bacteria and viruses in our bodies.  Just like most fruits, mushrooms also contain a mix of vitamins and other essential minerals that further strengthen the immune system.


It Prevents Breast & Prostate Cancer


Another great reason why mushrooms make a perfect addition to your diet is its ability to prevent breast and prostate cancer.  The presence of Beta-Glucans and Linoleic Acid in mushrooms makes them effective in the prevention of cancer. 

One of the prime causes of breast cancer in women past menopause is the presence of excess estrogen. Linoleic acid in mushrooms comes in handy in suppressing the harmful effects of excess estrogen, thus lowering risk of breast cancer. On the other hand, Beta-Glucans stops the growth of cancerous cells in cases of prostate cancer.


It Helps in Absorption of Nutrients


white button mushrooms

Image credit: BBCgoodfood.com


While sunlight and dairy products are the most commonly known sources of Vitamin D, mushrooms also pack a great deal of vitamin D. Did you know that white button mushrooms are one of the best-known sources of vitamin D? Whether you grow them indoor or outdoor, once exposed to sunlight they tend to increase their Vitamin D concentration. This essential vitamin is helpful in facilitating the absorption of phosphorous and calcium.


It Prevents Diabetes


With zero cholesterol or fat and remarkably low levels of carbohydrates, mushrooms make an ideal low-calorie food for people suffering from diabetes. They contain high protein content, a wealth of vitamins and minerals as well as plenty of water and fiber. Additionally, the natural insulin and enzymes contained in mushrooms help in the breakdown of sugar or starch in food that you consume.

They also enhance the proper performance of the liver, pancreas and other endocrine glands, thereby promoting the formation and proper regulation of insulin throughout the body. The natural antibiotics contained in mushrooms can help keep you from the painful conditions that people with diabetes often face as a result of the infections.


It Lowers Blood Pressure

Do you know mushrooms can help in lowering blood pressure? Well, in addition to making a delicious meal, intake of mushrooms, particularly Shiitake and Maitake varieties have been found to reduce blood pressure. Numerous studies have reported these mushroom varieties to contain high potassium content.

Potassium relaxes tension in blood vessels, which results in reduced blood pressure. This eventually keeps you from the risks of getting chronic diseases and deadly conditions such as heart attacks and strokes. Potassium has also been found to enhance memory and knowledge retention as increased blood and oxygen flow to the brain promotes neural activity.

As it is versatile and easily found, you can incorporate shiitake into a variety of dishes such as meat dishes, omelets, and stir fries. 


It Improves Iron Absorption


Copper delivers several health benefits, and are available in mushrooms. Apart from helping to maintain healthy bones and nerves, copper can as well stimulate and regulate the absorption of iron from foods that we take. In addition to increased iron absorption, mushrooms also include high levels of iron. This further helps in the prevention of anemia.

Mushrooms are a great source of iron, and our bodies can absorb most of the nutritive iron. This is vital in promoting the formation of red blood cells and keeping you healthy.


It Has Anti-inflammatory Effects


As I mentioned prior, mushrooms contain a powerful antioxidant known as ergothioneine. This antioxidant is helpful in lowering inflammation throughout your body. Reishi mushrooms, in particular, deliver some noteworthy anti-inflammatory effects and Asians have been using it medicinally for numerous years. Multiple studies have demonstrated reishi mushroom’s effectiveness in lowering inflammation and reduction of tumor growth.


The Conclusion


Although you can enjoy your favorite mushrooms raw and gain significant health benefits, certain cooking methods are proven to increase their nutrient content. Some mushroom varieties such as oyster, white button, and shiitake, which you can plant in your own garden, have been found to retain more vitamins and nutrients when cooked for a short duration. With that in mind, I highly recommend you to grill your mushrooms to get the most health benefits out of your favorite mushroom dishes!


Been wanting to incorporate a healthier diet without sacrificing on delicious tastes & flavors? We recommend going on an organic culinary vacation where you will not only learn how to whip up plenty of scrumptious dishes but also to learn how to grow organic food in your own backyard!

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