A mushroom is the fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus, typically produced above ground on soil or on its food source. There are approximately 140,000 species of mushroom-forming fungi in the world, but science is only familiar with about 10%, while only 100 species or so are being studied for their potential health benefits and medicinal applications. For thousands of years, Eastern cultures have revered mushrooms’ health benefits. The health benefits of mushrooms include relief from high cholesterol levels, effective in treating cancer, boost immune system and weight management. Read on to discover some of nature’s hidden treasures found in mushrooms.
Mushrooms are low in calories, fat-free, cholesterol-free, gluten-free, and very low in sodium, yet they provide several nutrients that are typically found in animal foods or grains, due to their nutrient density, they actually rank higher than most fruits and vegetables, and some researchers say that mushrooms are one of the rare foods that people can eat as often as possible, with no side effects.
Edible mushrooms can make a great addition to an anti-cancer diet as they are rich in disease-fighting phytochemicals, such as selenium, beta-glucans and Linoleic Acid. Extensive research suggests that mushrooms can provide protection against some types of cancer – including breast, prostate, stomach and lung cancer, especially Shiitake, Ganodorma lucidum, Polyporus and Cordyceps.
Boost immune system:
Some research shows that mushrooms are probiotics, they help our body to maintain physiological homeostasis, improve the body natural resistance to disease. In addition, a variety of antioxidants, like selenium, ergothioneine, long chain polysaccharides, particularly alpha and beta glucan molecules, are primarily responsible for the mushrooms’ beneficial effect on your immune system.
Mushrooms are one of the lowest-calorie natural foods available. Their substantial, meaty texture and juicy mouthfeel makes them a fantastic low-calorie and low-fat meat substitute. One study found that substituting red meat with white button mushrooms can help enhance weight loss, subjects ate a variety of typically meaty dishes or with mushrooms for one week each. They downed 420 fewer calories on average at each mushroom meal (and they found the meals equally tasty). Plus, they’re full of fiber keep you full for longer periods of time. For those reasons, they work very well within a balanced diet for weight loss.
Mushrooms are the only vegetarian source of ergosterol, a precursor to vitamin D. Vitamin D helps build and maintain strong bones by helping the body absorb calcium. Mushrooms also contain calcium! This wonderful combination just increases the benefits for your bones. If you can’t get sufficient sun-exposure during the day, especially in winter, then include mushrooms in your diet each day.
Foods containing saturated fats will stimulate your body to produce harmful LDL cholesterol. Mushrooms can also lower bad cholesterol levels because they contain no cholesterol, fat and very few carbs. This means that mushrooms have no significant effect on your body’s production of either HDL (“good” cholesterol) or LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol). Balancing levels of cholesterol between LDL cholesterol and HDL is essential in the prevention of various cardiovascular diseases like artherosclerosis, heart attack, and stroke. Additionally, as this article has said before, mushrooms are rich in beta-glucans, some studies have shown that an intake of 3 grams of beta-glucans per day can lower blood cholesterol levels by 5%.
Most species of mushrooms are not edible. Poisonous mushrooms can even lead to death. So don’t ever try picking mushrooms for consumption from the woods unless you have been trained to identify them very well.