3 Amazing Health Benefits of Mushrooms
Portobello, enoki, oyster or white button, no matter what your favorite, mushrooms are an absolutely essential ingredient in every diet.
According to Paul Stamets, world renowned Mycologist, we are more closely related to fungi than we are to any other kingdom because we share pathogens, bacteria and viruses, and they have an unmatched ability to produce strong antibiotics.
In a podcast interview he explains, "We respire carbon dioxide, so do fungi. We inhale oxygen, so do fungi. Our best antibiotics against bacteria come from fungi but we don't have very good anti-fungal antibiotics because they harm us because of our close relationship."*
Setting aside the mushroom species that are already used for extracting powerful medicines, simply eating them can yield major health benefits. Many varieties contain selenium, produce vitamin D when exposed to sunlight and are overall incredibly low in calories.
It's important to note that growing conditions are a key factor in determining the actual nutritional benefits. Mushrooms are like little sponges and are known to concentrate heavy metals, as well air and water pollutants from their surrounding environment, so healthy growing conditions are critical.
If you don’t already include mushrooms in your diet regularly, I suggest you pay a visit to your local store and pick up some for dinner because by excluding them in your diet, you are missing out on an entire unique nutritional profile that is unmatched by other fruits, vegetables, or even plants.
Although it is unrealistic to say that eating mushrooms alone will make you cancer-proof per-se, current research offers insight into how the unique nutrients in mushrooms work with our bodies towards better health and the following is only the tip of a very large, nutritious iceberg.
Here are three reasons to start working mushrooms into your diet today...
1) Vitamin D
A study by the university of Western Sydney found that 1-2 seconds of exposure to a UV light source can stimulate the mushrooms to naturally produce vitamin D necessary for human consumption.  Aside from stronger bones and prevention of osteoporosis, maintaining a normal level of vitamin D has been linked to a decreased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and colorectal cancer.
In terms of nutrition, you need both calcium and vitamin D on a daily basis because without vitamin D, the calcium you consume will not be absorbed properly. So if you're not able to get your vitamin D from sunshine, including mushrooms in your diet is a great alternative.
2) Cancer fighting abilities
Compounds found in mushrooms suppress an enzyme called aromatase, which has been found to convert androgen to estrogen in postmenopausal women, a catalyst in breast cancer development. Research has linked women who eat mushrooms regularly decreased their risk of breast cancer by about 50-60 percent compared to women who did not eat mushrooms at all.
Similarly, research has suggested that the same compounds in mushrooms inhibit an enzyme that converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone, thought to play a key role in prostate cancer development in men.
3) Diabetes & Glycaemic Index
Because mushrooms are low in carbohydrates, consuming them has no effect on blood glucose levels. Additionally, they are loaded with antioxidants, have no cholesterol and are virtually fat-free. Consuming mushrooms will not raise blood glucose levels due to their low glycaemic index and help keep your blood pressure normal by providing potassium.
Since mushrooms are capable of retaining their nutritional properties well with heat, here are a few simple ways to include this true superfood in your diet:
- Sauteed mushroom: Saute your choice of mushroom, you can mix a variety as well, in coconut oil, salt and pepper as desired. Serve topped with crumbled feta cheese as a side dish.
- Portobello burgers: De-stem portobello mushroom, lightly drizzle extra virgin olive oil and grill as you would a beef patty, adding salt and pepper to taste. These taste really good topped with fresh salsa and are a great addition to a summer cookout.
Quick tip - If you perpetually have trouble cooking mushrooms, be sure to cook them first and fold them back in any dish just before serving, this will help them retain their color, texture, and flavor better.
Adding Mushrooms Is a Simple Way to Boost Your Health Through Your Diet
With all the evidence supporting mushrooms as little powerhouses of potent nutrition, I highly recommend adding some to your diet. They’re an excellent addition to any salad and can elevate any recipe.
Just avoid picking mushrooms in the wild unless you are absolutely sure you know what you’re picking and even then, consult an expert. There are over 140,000 species of mushrooms and it can be extremely difficult to tell the difference between a number of toxic mushrooms and the few that are edible, unless you have a lot of experience and know what to look for.
Growing your own is an excellent option for those with a green thumb and a far safer alternative to picking wild mushrooms.
Nahal is a Health Wire researcher, contributor and social media expert.
- Koyyalamudi SR, Jeong SC, Song CH, Cho KY, Pang G. Vitamin D2 formation and bioavailability from Agaricus bisporus button mushrooms treated with ultraviolet irradiation. J Agricultural & Food Chemistry 2009; 57: 3351-3355 - See more at: http://www.powerofmushrooms.com.au/health-nutrition/health-nutrition/vitamin-d/#sthash.fnWrxJiw.dpuf
- Lee JH, O’Keeffe JH, Bell D, Hensrud DD, Holick MF. Vitamin D deficiency. J American College of Cardiology 2008; 52: 1949-1956 - See more at: http://www.powerofmushrooms.com.au/health-nutrition/health-nutrition/vitamin-d/#sthash.fnWrxJiw.dpuf
- Grube BJ, Eng ET, Kao YC, Kwon A, Chen S. White button mushroom phytochemicals inhibit aromatase activity and breast cancer proliferation. Journal of Nutrition 2001; 131: 3288-3293 - See more at: http://www.powerofmushrooms.com.au/health-nutrition/health-nutrition/cancer/#sthash.llbHa3vq.dpuf
- Adams LS, Phung S, Wu X, Ki L, Chen S. White button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) exhibits antiproliferative and proapoptotic properties and inhibits prostate tumor growth in athymic mice. Nutrition and Cancer 2008; 60 (6): 744-756 - See more at: http://www.powerofmushrooms.com.au/health-nutrition/health-nutrition/cancer/#sthash.llbHa3vq.dpuf
- Sang-Chul Jeong, Byung-Keun Yang, Yong-Tae Jeong, Rezuanul Islam, Sundar Rao Koyyalamudi, Gerald Pang, Kai Yip Cho, Chi-Hyun Song. White button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) intake alters blood glucose and cholesterol levels in diabetic and hyperlipidemic rats. Nutrition Research. 2010; 30(1): 49-56. - See more at: http://www.powerofmushrooms.com.au/health-nutrition/health-nutrition/diabetes-the-glycaemic-index/#sthash.d0cndE2P.dpuf