I’ve never been much of a mushroom eater. They were just one of those things that I’d pass by in the store and not give them a second glance. Then I started reading more about them and the amazing benefits of mushrooms, especially cooked mushrooms, and I began to use them more and more. Now, they are a staple on the grocery list and I’ve wondered why I didn’t start eating them long before. They are delicious!
Here are 10 reasons why you should give them a whirl if you aren’t eating them already.
1. Fight cold and flu
A study came out recently in the UK stating that when people consumed higher amounts of beta glucan 1,3/1,6, their symptoms related to colds and flus were reduced.
Beta glucan is a highly beneficial ingredient found in some mushrooms and it is documented to increase the body’s immune response. In the study, 100 healthy people were given either beta glucan or a placebo. They were checked every day. Ones who contracted upper respiratory symptoms were medically assessed and tested.
They found that those who had taken the beta glucan had less severe symptoms than those who had taken the placebo.
Because of the its aforementioned ability to enhance the immune response, beta glucan is one of the most important active ingredients in medicinal mushrooms.
For mushrooms that contain beta glucan look for Reishi, Turkey Tail Mushroom, Shiitake and Maitake. You can also take them as a supplement. ( But, WHY when they’re so tasty?!)
2. Lose weight
A French study, through the University of Paris, showed that rats who were fed mushroom extract while also being fed a high fat diet gained less weight. The other disorders related to extreme weight gain were minimized, as well. The rats showed more energy and increased locomotor skills.
3. 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.
This is good news for everyone, but especially for people who are heavy alcohol drinkers. Drinkers may want to consider taking a supplement or using it in their meals.
4. Get your vitamin D
The sun isn’t the only way that you can get your vitamin D. You can also get it from mushrooms. Vitamin D is extremely important and it has been revealed that most of the population in the US is deficient in this vital nutrient.
Vitamin D is essential to our well-being and it is most easily obtained through exposure to sunlight. It is not always possible, however, to have sunlight exposure throughout the year, so people have to find ways to supplement this vitamin. Mushrooms do not provide a major source of vitamin D, though some that are commercially produced are grown with ultraviolet light which exposes them to more vitamin D.
Maitake mushrooms have almost 1000 IU of vitamin D. Since most people are deficient, it appears that it may be worth your while to get vitamin D from all of the sources you can.
5. Boost your riboflavin
Vitamin B2 (or riboflavin) is important for your metabolism and regulating your energy. It helps to produce the red blood cells that oxygenate your body. If you just added 100 grams of simple white button mushrooms to your plate you would be getting 0.4 milligrams of riboflavin. This is about 25% of what you need daily. If you want to increase that B2 level even higher then try Crimini or Portobello mushrooms. They pack a punch at 30% of your recommended daily intake.
6. Trace mineral, Selenium
The trace mineral, Selenium, can be found in mushrooms. This important mineral is needed for proper thyroid function and is a powerful antioxidant. The selenium you will find in mushrooms can range from 2-20 micrograms per serving. This ranges from 3-30% of what you need on a daily basis.
When you cook your mushrooms, you are getting a great source of Selenium. Portobello mushrooms contain 26.5 micrograms of Selenium which adds up to about half of what you need to intake daily. Shiitake mushrooms are also a very good source of Selenium.
7. Lower your cholesterol
I would much rather eat a plate of mushrooms than have to take a statin to lower my cholesterol. And, you can! A study done in 2007 that was published in the “Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry” found that Shiitake mushrooms contained a compound called eritadenine that helped to lower cholesterol. Another study that was published in “The Medical News” found that many varieties of mushrooms helped to lower cholesterol and improve overall heart function. The mushrooms they looked at were: White Button, Portobello, Maitake, Crimini, Shiitake and Enoki.
8. Reduce your 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.
Maybe they know something that we don’t…
9. Decrease inflammation
Who would have thought that the simple White Button mushroom could have a positive effect on your immunity, but it does! It has been found to decrease inflammation according to a study published in 2009 in “BMC Immunology.”
10. Reduce risk of diabetes
Preliminary studies in China have found that diabetic rats fed white button mushrooms showed a decrease in blood glucose compared to those rats that were fed a regular diet.
Don’t know where to start? Here’s an easy recipe that will get you going.
Easy Sauteed Mushrooms
2 Tbs of coconut oil
2 cups of White Button mushrooms (or another variety you like)
2 cloves of fresh garlic (finely diced or chopped)
3 Tbs soy sauce
Heat up your coconut oil in a pan on medium. After it’s hot, add your chopped garlic and sautee it for a minute or so. Garlic scorches quickly so keep moving it around. Then add your mushrooms and then your soy sauce. Keep sauteeing until you get the texture seen above. It’s that easy!
Adding mushrooms is such an easy and delicious way to increase the minerals and other immune-enhancing properties we need. My family loves them and my only regret is that we didn’t start sooner.
Live well and be happy!