6 Health Benefits of Mushrooms

Mushrooms are fungi that are considered as a vegetable in many cuisines. They vary in shape and size, making them diverse ingredients for all sorts of dishes such as soups, stews, and baked goods. You’ll also find mushrooms in packs and cans in many grocery stores, so you won’t have to worry about finding them if you live in a city. Their versatility is also why many restaurants use them in their popular dishes. Plus, their unique flavor makes them a favorite vegetable of many people.

Besides being delicious, mushrooms also offer many health benefits that may improve your wellbeing. Certain mushroom types are packed with nutrients and other compounds that cater to different health concerns. You may even find some supplements containing mushroom extracts that help boost your health. Here are six benefits of eating mushrooms that might convince you to add them to your diet.

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Helps Boost Your Immune System

Mushrooms are rich in antioxidants, fiber, and protein that help boost your immune system. Some of the antioxidant agents found in mushrooms are vitamin C, selenium, and choline. These agents help flush out toxins, enhance your body’s defense system, help in digestion, build muscle, and prevent infections. 

Some mushroom species such as shiitake and button mushrooms are rich in Lentinan and Beta-Glucan, two sugars known to enhance your immune system. Adding a few of these mushrooms to your omelet, instant ramen, or fried rice might get you these essential nutrients for a more robust and healthier body every day.

Packed with Vitamins B and D

White button mushrooms are non-animal sources of vitamin D. Their rich vitamin D content is why you’ll find many vegan recipes using white button mushrooms as alternatives to chicken and fish. Vitamin D helps fight diseases, may reduce depression, and boost weight loss. You might even want to start growing this mushroom species in a sunny spot in your home as sunlight increases their vitamin D concentration. Residents of condo units with balcony areas at Urban Deca Homes in Tondo, Manila may start planting mushrooms in pots to have a sustainable vitamin D source.

Besides vitamin D, certain mushroom species are also rich in vitamin B. Mushroom types such as criminis, porcinis, parasol, oyster, black trumpets, black morel, and golden chanterelles show moderate to high levels of B12. People deficient in B vitamins may add mushrooms to their diet to encourage healthier nerves, red blood cells, and bones. Adding mushrooms to your dishes may help enhance your body’s defense against nerve damage and bone- and heart-related diseases.

Improves Your Brain Health

Eating mushrooms may also help improve brain health. In a 2019 study by the National University of Singapore, 663 patients aged 60 years and above consumed mushrooms at least once a week. The study revealed that consuming at least ¾ cups of cooked mushrooms a week reduced their odds of mild cognitive decline. Consuming mushrooms once or twice per week may improve your brain health and reduce your risks of getting Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Besides helping prevent neurological diseases, some mushroom types may also help improve mood and depression. Magic mushrooms, or “shrooms”, have Psilocybin, a compound that has psychoactive and hallucinogenic effects. While shrooms are not accepted as medicine in many countries, moderate consumption may help patients suffering from anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder cope. People who want to quit smoking and other addictions should consult professionals on using magic mushrooms as part of their therapy.

May Help Protect Against Cancer

Consuming certain mushroom species may help reduce your risks of getting cancer. For instance, a study published in 2011 suggested that certain mushroom genera, including Phellinus, Pleurotus, Agaricus, Ganoderma, and Clitocybe, have anti-cancer compounds. Similarly, a study in 2010 says that consuming mushrooms such as portobello, crimini, maitake, white button, and oyster may help protect you against breast cancer.

As mentioned earlier, certain mushroom types are rich in lentinan. While lentinan does not kill cancer cells, it helps boost your immune system. In turn, you will have a stronger and healthier body that suppresses and fights the growth of cancer cells.

Encourages Heart Health

Mushrooms are also packed with chitin and beta-glucan, two sugars known for lowering cholesterol. For instance, a  study about shiitake mushrooms revealed that these mushrooms aid the liver in processing cholesterol and removing it from the body. The study also said that shiitake mushrooms are packed with phytonutrients that help keep cells from attaching to blood vessel walls and block plague formation; this process maintains healthy blood pressure and circulation. On the other hand, an experimental study in South Korea showed that pink oyster mushrooms reduced bad cholesterol among hypercholesterolemic rats.

These two studies suggest that eating mushrooms may help lower the cholesterol levels of people who are overweight and those trying to lose some pounds. They also suggest that consuming mushrooms may reduce the risks of getting cardiovascular and liver-related diseases.

Helps Fight Aging

Besides vitamin C, selenium, and choline, mushrooms also contain high amounts of ergothioneine and glutathione, two antioxidants associated with anti-aging. Glutathione is notable for supporting your immune system, breaking down free radicals, regenerating vitamins C and E, helping your liver and gallbladder deal with fats, and as a side effect, whitens and give you glowing skin. On the other hand, ergothioneine is used as a medical supplement for many diseases. However, it is sometimes directly applied to the skin to reduce fine lines, wrinkles, and sun damage.

Eating mushrooms may boost your body’s regenerative properties, thus helping you maintain youthful-looking and beautiful skin. Plus, getting skincare products that have mushroom extracts aid in improving your skin’s condition.

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As a whole, mushrooms offer tremendous benefits for our well-being. These fungi and spores are packed with nutrients that help us fight diseases, replenish lost vitamins and minerals in our body, and achieve a healthier and more youthful glow. Plus, they are quite delicious too, when paired with some dishes. Take note of these six health benefits of mushrooms and consider adding them to your diet.

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